VITA

What is Vita?

VITA is the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and is a group of volunteers that fill out tax returns (for free) for lower income individuals and families.  In 2019, the Coastal Bend VITA Coalition completed over 3,900 returns.  The average adjusted gross income for participants was roughly $24,000 and the average refund was $1,000.  Taxpayers were able to keep every dollar of that with the peace of mind that their tax returns were completed correctly.  I can only imagine the impact these refunds have on families and our economy across the Coastal Bend.  I would love for us to serve more families this year. 

IRS website on VITA: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-qualifying-taxpayers

Where is VITA

This semester there will be 5 sites throughout the Coastal Bend.  For the third year in a row, we will have a site on campus.  Beginning Feb. 4th, volunteers will be in Room 135 of the Michael and Karen O’Connor Building on campus Fridays from 2-6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6 p.m.  The site on campus is aiming to help students, faculty, staff, and the military stationed at the Naval Air Station.  In order for all 4 sites to be successful and help as many families as possible, we need more volunteers.  Here are the locations, days, and times for the other sites in the area:

  • United Way of the Coastal Bend – 4659 Everhart Road; (Drop off only) Mondays-Thursdays 9am – 11am
  • Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Bend – 2961 S. Port Avenue; (Drop off only) Mondays – Thursdays 5-8pm and Saturdays 8am-noon and 1-5pm
  • West Oso High School – 754 Flato Road; (Drop off only) Mondays & Wednesdays 4:30-6pm
  • Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend – 520 N Staples Street; (Drop off only) Monday – Thursdays 2-6pm

Sites will be operational through April 18th.  Volunteers can work at any site as their schedule allows. There is no limit to how many hours you can volunteer, but anyone volunteering at least 20 hours will receive special recognition from the IRS and the VITA Coalition of the Coastal Bend.  

Who can Volunteer and What do they do?

Anyone who gets certified to volunteer can volunteer – you don’t have to be an accounting major.  The IRS encourages volunteers to get an “advanced” certificate for flexibility at each site.  I know many are apprehensive about volunteering and being responsible for someone else’s tax return but volunteering with VITA does not mean you have to fill out a tax return. Volunteers serve many roles – greeting taxpayers, making sure they have the necessary documents, filling out tax returns, and reviewing tax returns to name a few.  There is a high school in Laredo, TX that completes as many tax returns as we do throughout the Coastal Bend VITA Coalition.  If you do fill out a tax return, please know you will never be solely responsible for filling out a tax return, all tax returns go through a review process, and help will always be nearby.  All sites are following COVID-19 safety guidelines and will be operating as drop-off locations to reduce contact with clients. 

How can we get certified?

There are several resources to self-study for certification, but the IRS has created interactive learning modules at https://www.linklearncertification.com/d/ for those who want to get involved now.  For more detailed instructions please reach out to Ginger DeLatte at ginger.delatte@tamucc.edu.