Rantin: A helping hand with tax preparation

brantin@thestate.com (803) 771-8306February 3, 2014 

Midlands residents who meet certain income requirements will have two opportunities to get their 2013 income taxes prepared free in Columbia this week.

The United Way of the Midlands and BB&T are hosting the two mobile banking sites Tuesday and Wednesday as the kickoff to this year’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The joint effort of the United Way and the Cooperative Ministry provides free tax assistance to families in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry counties with annual household incomes of less than $50,000.

As part of the program, IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

“The goal of the VITA program is to help people maximize their income and plan for the future,” said Mac Bennett, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of the Midlands. “We are grateful to partners like BB&T and the Cooperative Ministry who help make VITA successful for the families in our community who need that extra assistance.”

BB&T will provide services at two sites this week. The first will run from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Cecil A. Tillis Center, 211 Simpkins Lane in Columbia. The services will be offered again from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday at Transitions homeless shelter, 2025 Main St., Columbia.

“BB&T welcomes the opportunity to partner with organizations that help individuals achieve financial security,” said Mike Brenan, South Carolina state president of BB&T.

The VITA program expects to add about a dozen sites in the coming weeks.

When coming in for an appointment, participants should bring in a photo ID, Social Security cards for all household members and W2s received from an employer.

Area residents who earned $58,000 or less last year also can visit myfreetaxes.com/midlands to file their taxes free online.

For more information on the VITA program, visit www.uway.org.

Race for the Place

The fifth annual Race for the Place 5K run/walk for St. Lawrence Place will be held Saturday in Columbia’s Shandon neighborhood.

The event begins at 8 a.m. at the starting line behind St. Joseph Catholic Church and will be followed at 9:15 a.m. by a fun run for children.

The registration fee is $30, which includes a shirt. Participants can register on site the day of the event, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Proceeds will benefit St. Lawrence Place, which provides support services, life skills and transitional housing to help homeless families with children achieve independent living.

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