Volunteers Bring Tax Assistance Program to Life
More than 16,600 tax returns prepared by 658 volunteers. 24,225 volunteer hours logged at 29 sites across Greater Atlanta’s 13 county region. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was a success again this year, resulting in nearly $15 million in refunds and tax preparation fees. It’s in the program’s name, so it shouldn’t be surprising. It’s only through volunteers across Greater Atlanta that can VITA can be a success.
Greater Atlanta needs VITA.
Forty percent of families in the Greater Atlanta area are classified as low income, meaning their wages most likely do not cover basic needs, even though many work over 50 hours a week. Too many of these hard-working families pay hundreds of dollars in tax preparation fees and fail to claim the important Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Moderate to low income families lack access to a certified and IRS trained tax preparer with special emphasis on ensuring important tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Education Credits are received by every eligible person, and many do not have access to important asset-building information and tools. That’s where VITA steps in.
It’s all in the name.
Since 2012, United Way has led the VITA coalition in Greater Atlanta to provide free tax preparation services to families with moderate to low incomes. Without volunteers, VITA wouldn’t happen. Even high school students step up to volunteer. Led by teachers Michael DeVault and Katy Rathke, Osborne High School students who are enrolled in an Entrepreneurship class receive IRS tax preparation training and take a certification exam. After the exam, students are assigned job roles such as tax preparer, tax assistant, scheduler and administrative assistant. Through VITA, Osborne High School students provide an important service for working families in Greater Atlanta. They also gain job skills and build financial literacy, which will help them as they prepare to graduate high school and venture into the working world.
Cheers to volunteers!
Thank you to the 658 volunteers who dedicated their time and talent to help families across Greater Atlanta. You’re making an impact as part of the more than 15,000 volunteers that have volunteered with United Way of Greater Atlanta – just this past year – for families across our region.
Sara Fleeman is the Senior Manager of B2B Marketing at United Way of Greater Atlanta.