Free Tax Help Grows: United Way of Denton County Receives First Federal Grant

VITA site Volunteer preparing taxes November 1st, 2012

Denton, TX -- United Way of Denton County (UWDC) recently received its first federal grant that will allow the organization to expand its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

With the help of local volunteers, the free program has helped more than 1,300 Denton county residents file their income taxes since 2007.

"In order for VITA to grow we need more manpower," said Traci Williamson, community impact coordinator for UWDC. "The grant allows us to add sites and hire additional support, which is one of the key components needed to successfully grow the program."

The program has helped generate almost $2 million in tax refund dollars across Denton County for those who earn less than $50,000 a year.

Denton county resident Erika Washington has participated in the VITA program since 2009.

"I would absolutely recommend it to anybody," Washington said. "Number one, it was free so it was very cost-efficient. Also, the volunteers who prepared our taxes for us were very accurate."

The VITA program offers several volunteer opportunities such as tax preparers, quality reviewers, intake processors and translators.

"Anyone can be a volunteer," Williamson said. "It's quite a commitment, but it is definitely worth it."

Washington said the location where she filed her taxes, Denton's North Branch Library, where UWDC has operated the VITA program since 2007, was also convenient for her family.

"I would allow my children to go to the library while my husband and I sit and do our taxes," she said. "It's like killing two birds with one stone."

VITA also has locations in Little Elm and this year will offer services in Sanger.

"It gives people from lower income backgrounds the opportunity to grab hold of some of the money that's out there," Williamson said. "They often times have no idea what's available to them, and it helps educate them further about their taxes. However, in order for the program to grow, what we need most right now are more volunteers."

United Way of Denton County is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to advance the common good by focusing on education, income and health – the building blocks for a good life. Through our work in the community, it is our goal to: help families have financial stability, build healthy communities and help children and youth achieve their potential.