The City of San Antonio, United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County, and Catholic Charities of San Antonio, Inc. are in need of dedicated volunteers 18 years of age and up who are willing to train/serve as volunteer tax preparers, greeters and intake specialists for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program in anticipation of next year’s federal income tax filing season.
“Each year, thousands of hard-working families rely on VITA free tax preparation to help them recover critically needed refund dollars and important tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit,” Human Services Director Gloria Hurtado said. “San Antonio’s VITA Program consistently ranks as one of the top-performing programs throughout the country – our success is due to our volunteers and their selfless participation in bringing this service to those in our community who need it.”
Last year, VITA volunteers operated 23 sites throughout San Antonio and completed more than 30,500 tax returns for families/individuals earning up to $55,000, recovering over $56.2 million in refunds for taxpayers. This tax year, families/individuals earning up to $60,000 will be eligible for free VITA tax preparation, allowing the program to serve even more people from 20 sites.
“United Way has been closely involved with VITA since it became a community-wide effort,” said Bill Gold, chair of United Way’s Family Issue Council and Enterprise Holdings vice president and general manager. “VITA volunteers provide a valuable service to San Antonio families, and the funds saved by those families can help make ends meet during difficult economic times,” he added.
VITA volunteers prepare basic tax returns for eligible taxpayers and provide intake/support at VITA sites throughout the city. All volunteers receive free 16-hour classroom/online training and IRS certification – no prior experience is necessary. VITA volunteers serve a minimum of two to four hours each week at an assigned VITA site from January through April – sites operate during daytime, evening and/or Saturday hours.
“For the past nine years, the San Antonio VITA partnership has received top national recognition for its role in helping to bring the VITA Program to San Antonio’s citizens,” Catholic Charities President J. Antonio Fernandez said. “We hope to sign up 800 volunteers, especially those who can serve at our sites on San Antonio’s East and West sides where the need is crucial.”
Individuals interested in signing up as volunteers can register online at vitasa.org. Individuals can also call Catholic Charities at (210) 222-2975 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on volunteer opportunities and details. Training will run through mid-January 2014. VITA is scheduled to open all sites for tax preparation on January 22, 2014.
As a special incentive, individuals who sign up as VITA volunteers and successfully refer at least five additional individuals to sign up, train and serve as volunteers for next year’s tax season will earn a $25 gift card in appreciation for their initiative and support. In addition, registered volunteers who complete training will receive a $10 gift card.
The VITA Program is sponsored by the IRS and coordinated by VITA San Antonio led by the City of San Antonio, United Way and Catholic Charities. The goal of the initiative is to increase the financial stability of low-income working individuals and families in San Antonio and Bexar County by helping them claim important tax credits while saving them millions in expensive paid preparer fees.