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Are you worried about tax season? United Way offers free filing service in Northeast Florida

More than 300 IRS-certified volunteers will help you file your taxes for free in 60 sites, Jan. 21 to April 15.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — If you want to avoid hiring a tax preparer, IRS-certified volunteers with United Way of Northeast Florida can help you file your tax return electronically at no cost. 

Carter Elliott, its director of financial stability, said customers can rest assure volunteers are prepared to handle their taxes. 

"They have been doing this for many, many, many, many years, they are very knowledgeable, many of them are IRS employees," he said. 

PROGRAM BY THE NUMBERS

The free service is part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), which seeks to help families with a yearly household income of $69,000 or less to get their taxes done at no cost.

Based on their household income, Elliott said 40 percent of families in Northeast Florida are eligible to get their taxes done for free through VITA. He said the average household income of last year's customers was about $25,000. 

HOW TO GET YOUR TAXES DONE FOR FREE

United Way offers the free service in 60 sites across Clay, Duval, Nassau, St. Johns and Putnam Counties from Jan. 21 to April 15.

On average, Elliott said you can save $250 by using VITA instead of hiring a private company to do your tax return.

The duration of the tax preparation session can vary based on the complexity of each customer's return. 

"It usually takes about an hour," Elliott said. "There are certain things that you need to bring like all of your W-2s for your family."

Here you can check all the documents you need to bring to the session. 

Once you find the location that works for you on this map, click on the arrow next to "more info" to find out if you need to make an appointment.

Customers can make appointments online or by calling 904-632-0600.

United Way volunteers file your taxes electronically. However, they can also do paper tax returns, but that can cause refunds to get take longer to arrive. 

In addition, Elliott said customers who want to receive their refund through a direct deposit should bring a blank check to copy their bank account and routing number. 

He added people should not wait until the last minute to file their taxes. Taxes are due April 15.

"The early bird gets the worm, the earlier you do it, then the sooner you get your tax refund," Elliott said. 

The IRS expects more than 150 million tax returns to be filed this tax season.