Citizens with household incomes under $54,000 may qualify for free tax preparation. (Photo: Flickr)

The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga recently kicked off its annual free tax preparation service to help local citizens with their returns.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program began 15 years ago and is geared at helping some citizens prepare their taxes for free.

Citizens must have a household income of $54,000 or less in order to qualify for the service.


“Taxes is one of the things that impacts everybody in the community,” Urban League President Warren Logan Jr. said during a recent news conference. “It’s fortunate that we’ve been able to do this service for the last 15 years free to the citizens.”

Since its inception, the VITA program has gone from helping about 2,200 people a year to helping 5,000 people a year. Those who use the VITA service see an average of $1,483 in refunds.

After citizens receive help with their taxes, other financial experts are available to help plan how to use their returns in productive ways.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said during the news conference that he’s pleased this service is available in Chattanooga because it helps people who may need the money from their tax returns.

“We want to take down the barriers that people in our community face,” he said. “One of those is particularly for people of low income. It’s expensive and sometimes difficult to figure out how to file your taxes.”

There are 22 locations providing the service across Hamilton, Marion and Bradley counties.

Citizens looking to get tax assistance should bring a valid photo ID or driver’s license, source documents, Social Security cards, last year’s tax return, information on large purchases such as a home or boat, 1095 health care form, bank information and applicable W-2 forms.

Details about these forms and information on the hours and addresses of tax assistance locations can be found here.

Click here for more tax tips from the IRS.

Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She currently attends UTC, where she was previously the news editor of the student newspaper, The University Echo. Alina also worked at CNN during the summer of 2017 and is the former Chattanooga correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville. You can reach Alina at [email protected] or on Twitter @alinahuntergrah