United Way of East Central Iowa helps issue $2.6 million in tax refunds


United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) has helped issue millions in refunds to Iowa taxpayers for the 2023 tax season. 

Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, the nonprofit filed over 1,800 refunds throughout two Iowa counties and 79 cities, for a total of $2.6 million returned to taxpayers. VITA is a free tax preparation service available to individuals and families who earn less than $60,000 in Linn, Jones, Benton, Cedar, or Iowa counties. 

According to a press release from UWECI, the average tax preparation fee is $176, which leads to many Iowans filing their own taxes and potentially missing important credits.

As quoted in the release, VITA volunteer Steve Hershner said the free service goes beyond just numbers, and has a big impact on those who use it.

“It’s clear walking through the tax filing process with them provides such a sense of relief,” Hershner said in the release. “As a volunteer, it feels good to help maximize their refund while minimizing what they owe and help take a burden off their shoulders during a potentially stressful time.”

Vice President of Community Impact Karey Chase was also quoted in the release, stating that it’s important to create a safe environment where every client feels valued, regardless of the challenges they face.

“By ensuring that every client feels comfortable and confident in every appointment, the program helps individuals navigate the tax season with ease and empowers clients to take control of their financial responsibilities,” Chase said in the release.