Learn more about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program & how you can get involved.
One of United Way of East Central Iowa’s (UWECI) goals is to increase the financial stability of individuals and families in our community. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides a pathway, assisting low-to-middle income families with filing their federal and state income tax returns for free.
Each year, individuals and families often miss crucial pieces during filing that significantly impact their return. This national IRS sponsored program changes lives of both clients and volunteers, many of which share stories of overwhelming relief, appreciation, and fulfillment. Last year, VITA volunteers prepared 2,239 returns bringing $3.8 million back to our community.
“It is always gratifying to see a return go to someone who will really benefit from getting that money back,” said a VITA Volunteer.
As VITA continues to grow, so does the need for volunteers. There is no prior experience needed and training is provided for all positions.
- Greeter: Primary responsibility is to welcome VITA clients and ensure they have everything they need to file their taxes. Will also provide clients with intake forms, help the preparers stay organized, and call next day appointments.
- Tax Preparer: Responsible for preparing taxes on behalf of the client. Don’t worry—free IRS tax training is available with both basic and advanced level certification.
- Intake Specialists: Are the first point of contact for clients using the VITA drop-off option. Intake specialists review taxpayer documentation to make sure everything is complete and finalize the process by securing client signatures.
Over the years, VITA has helped families maximize their refunds, often changing lives in the process. One year, a young, single mother went to VITA for the first time and realized she wasn’t taking advantage of a number of credits. Due to the child tax credit, earned income credit, and education credit, her federal refund totaled more than $11,000.
When the volunteer she was working with asked what she planned to do with the refund, through tears of joy, she said, “We have been living in a shelter and I was going to stay there until I was done with school. But now, I can make a home for my children.”
“Volunteering with VITA is rewarding because it gives me a chance to give back to people who are working hard to achieve their dreams,” said a VITA volunteer.