Our United Way of North Central Florida focuses on three key areas to reduce generational poverty - Education, Health and Financial Stability. While we fund more than 30 programs within those three areas, we have an in-house, IRS-funded program for financial stability called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or more commonly known as VITA.
Every year, our VITA program files hundreds of tax returns for
low- to moderate-income individuals and
families in our region. The VITA program provides free tax prep to taxpayers.
During the 2016 season, our VITA program refunded more than $2.5 million to the community and saved taxpayers more than $500,000 in paid fees. So far this year, we have refunded more than $1.5 million to the community and saved more than $500,000 in tax preparation fees. We also helped community members claim more than $650,000 in Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC).
This tax season, we had more than 170 volunteers at 13 various sites throughout our region, with three sites serving the rural community. Our goal was to file 2,006 taxes. As of Monday, May 7, we have filed a little more than 1,950 returns, which means we are 97 percent to our goal! We still have some returns in progress, but we are hoping that we will soon reach our goal.
The impact VITA has on individuals in our community is undeniable. During this season, one client was so impressed with the service she received. On her way out, she gave a donation to United Way saying, “
I know I don’t have to give, I want to give. This is a good service you’re providing to the community.