United Way seeks potential VITA volunteers

HARLINGEN — United Way of Cameron County is seeking volunteers to become tax preparers for the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

VITA is a federally-sponsored initiative that works to help assist moderate-to-low income families during tax season.

VITA generally offers assistance to those who make less than $54,000 a year, families with members that have disabilities and families with limited to know English knowledge.

United Way has facilitated the VITA program since 2004 and partners with local school districts and universities to accomplish their goal.

Last year, there were 17 VITA sites across Cameron County with 279 volunteers.

“It totally depends on volunteer participation,” Keren Arista from United Way of Southern Cameron County said.

Arista said her goal for this year is to bring 300 volunteers on board before their season starts in January.

Arista said the ideal volunteer is over the age of 18 with a clean record, however high school juniors and seniors interested in training can find out if their school offers the program where they can be sponsored.

According to Arista, VITA attracts retirees, former accountants and local university students.

While United Way will provide study groups and training facilities, the program is self-paced and online.

Arista said the training itself is rigorous, but volunteers with access to a computer can complete training at home.

“We have a lot of returning volunteers who get a lot out of it,” Arista said. “They see the difference they make in the lives in the community.”

Volunteers can jump into training any time within the next three months, but facilitated training will begin mid-November.

In 2017, VITA volunteers in Cameron County helped file 4,624 tax returns and tracked $4.8 million earned income tax credit back to the economy.

2017 VITA

Project Results

• 4,624 Tax returns filed

• 17 VITA sites

• 279 Community volunteers

• $9.8 million total refunds for families

• $4.8 million earned income tax credits

How to help

To volunteer visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VITAapplication