A VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) kickoff at the Shadow Brook Apartments VITA center Feb. 7 signaled the official start of a busy tax season in Arlington. Of the 14 free tax preparation centers operated by United Way and its partners to benefit low-income working families, five are in Arlington. The City of Arlington and Foundation Communities are United Way’s lead partners in Arlington.
“During the last tax season, Arlington VITA sites completed over 40% of the tax returns done by all of the VITA sites in Tarrant County,” said Sue Matkin, United Way Vice President of Community Development. “TheArlington VITA sites brought $3,832,024 in total returns and $1,552,445 in Earned Income Tax Credit back to the city last year.”
IRS-certified staff and volunteers at the VITA centers help families who earn less than $53,000 to prepare and file their tax returns. The families avoid tax preparation fees and obtain all eligible tax credits.
Tax filers are encouraged to save some of their refund money by putting a portion into their savings account or buying a savings bond. Both can be done easily at the VITA centers. VITA volunteers are also promoting the “30-40-30” practice of using 30% of a tax return to pay off high-interest bills, 40% to have fun and 30% to save for future goals. “This is a good way to establish or build an emergency savings account or save for a planned event or expense,” said Sue. “Tax time is the easiest time of the year for families to put money aside.”
The 30-40-30 Campaign is paying off. The number of Arlington tax filers choosing to save part of their refund has already surpassed last year’s total. And as for the 40% set aside for fun, one Arlington family said they would use it to buy season passes to Six Flags.
Photos above, top to bottom:
VITA volunteers were busy helping people prepare their taxes at the VITA Kickoff at Shadow Brook Apartments in Arlington.
United Way Board Member Brian Gutierrez received a “30-40-30” shirt at the VITA Kickoff.
At the Shadow Brook Apartments VITA Center, Tasha Conley of Family Pathfinders handed out information about free financial coaching.