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Volunteer with VITA to help provide free income tax assistance for families in Tarrant County

Posted Jan. 15, 2016

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The City of Fort Worth is partnering with the United Way of Tarrant County to offer free income tax assistance for local families through the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program.

The VITA program targets low- to middle-income families with a household income of $54,000 or less and offers free tax assistance and income tax filing. VITA also offers additional financial education training on how to manage their finances by reducing debt and building assets.

This year, taxpayers can use VITA services three ways: through traditional visits to the site, through VITA On The Go and through MyFreeTaxes.com.

VITA On The Go gives taxpayers the flexibility to drop off their tax information, have their taxes prepared within three days and return to the site to review and complete their tax filing.

MyFreeTaxes.com gives taxpayers the ability to prepare and file returns through computers at VITA sites. Certified tax preparers are available to answer questions.

All VITA volunteers are IRS-certified in tax law and must receive a score of 80 percent or higher to achieve this certification. Volunteers are also required to complete ethics training through the Volunteer Standards of Conduct.

During 2015, local VITA sites processed 7,033 returns, which received an earned income tax credit of $5,164,314. This is more than $5 million worth of disposable income that would not have been available to North Texas families who filed their taxes through other means.

This year, VITA sites will be located across Tarrant County, including the Tarrant County College Opportunity Center, the south campus of Tarrant County College, Opening Doors for Women, Community Enrichment Center, GRACE in Grapevine, Grapevine Community Outreach Center, Southside Community Center and Northside Community Center.

Volunteers needed

The Fort Worth VITA program is seeking volunteers to assist during the upcoming tax filing season, from late January to April 2016. Volunteers can get involved by becoming:

  • Greeters, who welcome and direct customers while overseeing sign-in.
  • Intake specialists, who ensure customers have the necessary documentation to complete their income tax return and help them complete the information in their VITA packet.
  • Interpreters, who provide free interpretation and translation services to customers not fluent in English, or customers who need additional assistance.
  • Tax preparers, who prepare simple tax returns and discuss the return with the customer after the quality review process is complete.

No prior qualification is required to be a VITA tax preparer, and VITA volunteers are not liable for mistakes, per the Volunteer Protection Act. A VITA staff person will be present with the volunteer at all times, and each tax return is reviewed before being submitted to the IRS.

Continuing education credits are available for tax return preparers and other enrolled agents who work as volunteers for the VITA program. These credits could include up to 14 hours of credit as quality reviewers or tax return preparers, eight hours of credit as tax law instructors and up to 18 hours of credit by meeting the requirements for quality reviewers, tax return preparers or instructors.

Qualifying volunteers must complete the Volunteer Standards of Conduct Training, certify in tax law using Link & Learn Taxes and meet the minimum requirements as quality reviewers, tax return preparers or instructors.

Become a volunteer by visiting the VITA website or by contacting VITA by email.

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