As part of its goal to help make Denton County families more financially stable, United Way of Denton County has offered free tax preparation to those who qualify as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for the past five years. Volunteer tax preparers found more than $180,070 in Earned Income Tax Credits and more than $582,600 in total federal refunds for Denton County residents this year.
In 2007, the IRS estimated that more than $16 million in tax credits had gone unclaimed by Denton County residents. To combat this, and get money back into resident’s wallets and the local economy, United Way of Denton County began offering free, volunteer-led tax preparation services and counseling to low-to-moderate income families in Denton County.
“There is a high demand for the service in Denton; we had to turn people away, unfortunately,” said Traci Williamson, Community Impact Coordinator for United Way of Denton County. “We absolutely want to continue to grow in the future, but we first must increase the number of volunteers who are willing to get trained and certified to do this kind of work,” continued Williamson. “What we really need more of are volunteers who speak both English and Spanish.”
United Way of Denton County expanded the VITA program in 2012 by adding a site in Little Elm.
“VITA is an outstanding program and we are excited to provide this service in Little Elm, a community that is important to United Way of Denton County and has experienced significant growth over the last decade,” says Gary Henderson, President and CEO of United Way of Denton County.
The IRS estimates that the average out-of-pocket cost incurred by taxpayers to prepare and submit their returns is $225 per return. Based on this calculation, the United Way of Denton County VITA program has saved residents roughly $293,850 in tax preparation alone since 2007.
The VITA program is designed to ensure Denton County residents the largest Earned Income Tax Credit and overall possible return. Residents who earn less than $50,000 annually may receive up to $4,500 through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and up to $1,000 per child through the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
Since its inception in 2007, United Way of Denton County VITA program volunteers have prepared more than 1,300 tax returns, generating more than $1,782,900 in tax refund dollars for Denton County residents.
For information about serving as a United Way of Denton County VITA volunteer, contact Traci Williamson at (940) 566-5851 or visit www.unitedwaydenton.org.