Learn more about how you can help your community through this essential Eastern Iowa program.
As the end of the year approaches, United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) is already thinking about next year’s tax season. If you’re looking for ways to volunteer in the near future, you could make a difference by volunteering with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). As a VITA volunteer, you will help the community by preparing tax returns and helping people get the tax credits they need. The money they receive from their tax returns helps them pay bills, put food on the table, and prepare for brighter futures right here in East Central Iowa.
The VITA program trains volunteers in tax preparation for low-and moderate-income individuals and families earning up to $54,000. VITA is provided for free to families who otherwise would have to pay to file their annual tax return. This national IRS-sponsored program changes the lives of both clients and volunteers, many of which share stories of overwhelming relief, appreciation, and fulfillment. Last year, VITA volunteers prepared more than 1,700 returns, bringing back $2.7 million to our community!
This year, there will likely be a higher need for VITA services. As many people have been impacted financially through the pandemic and derecho, more families will qualify for this service. VITA is seeking to train over 100 volunteers to support this increased need in our community. No prior experience is needed to become a volunteer and training is provided for all positions. There are three ways to help. They include:
- Greeter: A greeter’s primary responsibility is to welcome VITA clients and ensure they have everything they need to file their taxes. Greeters also provide clients with intake forms, help the preparers stay organized, and call next day appointments.
- Tax Preparer: Tax preparers are 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: These individuals 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.
As we are still in the midst of a pandemic, VITA training and volunteer opportunities will look slightly differently this year. There will be low or no-contact options to keep both VITA clients and volunteers safe, while still providing excellent service to the community.
The overwhelming response from VITA clients is one of relief and gratefulness. For example, a single mother received a federal refund totaling more than $11,000 last year! 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 kids.”
You could make a difference in our community! Follow the link below to fill out our VITA volunteer form.