With tax season over, the City of Phoenix' Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) completed another successful season helping moderate to low-income citizens file their income taxes. Founded in 1971, VITA is sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service. This program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less. Through this program, many of the most at-need members in the community can gain invaluable help with their tax returns.
The program with the city has volunteers spread over 16 sites. To become a volunteer, people must go through 20 hours of free training and pass a certification test. This year, volunteers helped community members file 4,338 federal tax returns for a refund amount of $6,814,212. For many people that file their returns, this can be the only time that they gain money that they can put aside or use to pay large bills. A new trend that is developing is that people are starting to use this money towards their education. The return that people get from their filings often helps stabilize their households and enables them to seek professional development.
All this work would not have been possible without the 259 volunteers spending 10,046 hours on this amazing project. Many of the volunteers in the program are returning and have been working it for many years. In 2016, two volunteers celebrated 40 years of volunteering with the program. The volunteers that are with the program are just as diverse as the clientele served. From high school students to retired accountants, volunteers come from many walks of life. For many of them, this is an opportunity to develop their own skills and gain experience in the tax prep field. Many have gone on to work in the field as a result. The program has provided an enriching experience as demonstrated by the fact that many of the volunteers return every year.
The VITA program with the City of Phoenix has been renewed for another 2 years! The volunteers and program staff will be able to continuously serve the Valley population further and provide a much needed service. Find out how to become a volunteer by going to the website here.