VITA Wrap Up: 2017 Tax Year

April 27, 2018 | Cliff Ehlinger

This tax season, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program brought millions of dollars back to families in our community!

VITA is a national IRS-sponsored program that helps households with income less than $54,000 receive their maximum federal and state tax refunds through free tax preparation and filing. Each year, United Way of East Central Iowa organizes the program with its partners to improve services, as well as recruit and train volunteers in Linn and Jones Counties.

This year, VITA, sponsored by Linn Area Credit UnionTransamerica, University of Iowa Community Credit Union, and Wells Fargo, provided a new service for taxpayers to drop off their tax materials at two locations and later pick up their return once completed—making the return process even easier for East Central Iowans.

The program’s 2017 tax season ran January 30–April 13. During this time, VITA volunteers helped clients receive nearly $3.05 million in federal refunds and approximately $553,000 in state refund dollars. In addition:

  • VITA prepared a total of 2,225 federal returns
  • 84 volunteers served as certified tax preparers, greeters, and intake specialists
  • Volunteers contributed 5,296 total hours to the program

So, what does free tax filing mean for VITA clients? For many, it is a life-changing service:

  • A senior client found out how much she would be receiving for a refund. She said it would fully cover the cost of a new hearing aid.
  • One father was excited to receive his return since it will cover the cost of a trip to Washington to see his son and family. He has not had enough money to visit them at their new home.
  • One client had not filed her taxes in three years and was so grateful for the chance to catch up.
  • After paying $250 to have her taxes filed the previous year, a taxpayer not only saved preparation fees, but also received enough of a return to visit her son and grandchild in Virginia.
  • A single mom working a full-time job and going to school as a full-time student will use her refund for living expenses including food and rent.