More tax returns! More tax refund dollars! More Earned Income Tax Credits! Tax season is over, and United Way’s VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) centers have outdone themselves once again in putting more money into the pockets of low- and middle-income families and into the local economy.
The VITA centers completed 7,589 returns (up 1% over last year) that produced $13,957,362 in total refunds—a 6% increase. The refunds included $5,730,462 in Earned Income Tax Credits, a 13% increase over last tax season.
The average tax refund per family was $1,839—a considerable amount considering that the average family income of VITA customers is about $19,000 to $20,000. If the VITA customers had paid $300 apiece to have their taxes done by a paid tax preparer, they would have spent $2,276,700 in fees.
Since 2010, the VITA centers have generated almost $72 million in tax refunds. That has included $28.1 million in Earned Income Tax Credit.
United Way’s partners, Catholic Charities Fort Worth, City of Arlington, City of Fort Worth, Compassionate Fort Worth, Foundation Communities and the Internal Revenue Service, made the 2017 VITA Centers possible, as did the many volunteers who worked long hours with training provided by the IRS. This year 170 volunteers gave 5,363 hours to provide the free tax preparation assistance.
United Way honored the VITA volunteers and partner organizations May 4 at a fun recognition event. (See photos from the event here.)
United Way staff dressed as Oprah Winfrey, Audrey Hepburn, Clint Eastwood and other celebrity legends to welcome the guests. VITA volunteers honored for the most significant number of hours were: Arlington—Gilbert Bellamy, Betty Escobar, Larry Jordan and Robert Schmidt; Catholic Charities—Anne Ellison; Fort Worth—Anne Agee, Victoria Borrego, Milo Brown, Kyoko Fitzgerald, Larry Klos, Juan Ortega and Rena Tanker; and Fort Worth Northeast—Norman Reust and Linda Lumb. Students recognized for donating the most significant volunteer hours were TCC South Campus—Vinicius (Vinny) Ferreira; TCC Southeast Campus—Jennifer Lam; TCU—Tu Vu; and UTA—Danya Keith.
Larry Klos and Rena Tanker also have been honored by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Tarrant County (RSVP).
Other VITA recognition went to Yolanda Sifuentes at TCC South, Karen Haun at TCC Southeast, Dr. Bill Wempe at TCU, and Angie Akmakjian at the Community Enrichment Center for helping to recruit and train volunteers.