United Way of Santa Barbara County and partner organizations are providing free tax preparation for the community on “Mega Tax Day,” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, April 7 at the United Way offices, 320 E. Gutierrez St. in Santa Barbara.

Trained, experienced local VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteers will provide free tax preparation and e-filing services. The events will also include local financial literacy referrals and resources including assistance with retirement and college savings (“529”) plans, special offers on savings and checking accounts, prizes and support from a large group of local nonprofits and businesses involved in the Financial Empowerment Partnership.

The bilingual staff will provide services for qualifying families and individuals with 2011 incomes of less than $50,000, helping people take advantage of tax benefits and refunds they are eligible for, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child and Dependent Care Credit, Making Work Pay Credit and higher education tax credits, among others.

In 2011, $4.1 million in tax refunds was returned to local families and about 2,100 tax returns were prepared and filed through United Way of Santa Barbara County, its VITA partners and the first ever Mega Tax Day held last April.

This tax season, United Way has expanded its Mega Tax Day locations to more conveniently serve eligible individuals and families in Isla Vista and Carpinteria.

Taxes will be prepared on a first come, first served basis and limited by the number of volunteers available. Please come prepared with Social Security card or ITIN numbers, W-2 forms, 1099 if applicable, childcare provider information (name, address, tax number), picture I.D., and bank routing/account number for direct deposit of refund.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing United Way of Santa Barbara County.