Starting next February, Robertson County residents will have the opportunity to receive free tax assistance and fill out for the third consecutive year, thanks to the United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
A memorandum of understanding was approved at this month’s board meeting between the United Way of Greater Nashville and Robertson County Schools for the program to take place at the school board’s central offices.
“I think one of the coolest things that we’ve started doing is to be a site for the VITA program with the United Way,” Director of Schools Dr. Chris Causey said. “This program offers free tax help or free tax fill out. And we help them here in this building through the United Way.
VITA is an IRS program powered by United Way, which recruits and trains volunteers to help prepare taxes for people in the community who make less than $66,000 a year per household. Eligible taxpayers can come in and receive help from volunteers to prepare their taxes for them for free, while a site coordinator will file their tax returns for them. The program first arrived in Nashville in 2004 and has become very successful throughout the midstate ever since.
United Way, like AARP and others, teams with the IRS for this program. With 25 locations across Middle Tennessee, United Way and the IRS share the costs of the program, such as administrative salaries, and paper and ink. However, all the tax assistants are volunteers, as well as many of the site coordinators.
According to Causey, the program will be using the school board facilities for two days a week for 11 weeks straight, starting Feb. 1 and up to April 15.
“It’s just a great thing that we can provide based on the hard work of the people I have mentioned in this process. In the past I think we’ve done it in the computer lab, but I think this year we’re going to do it here in the meeting room with laptops.”
Because the VITA program offers free tax assistance it allows taxpayers, especially those in low-income families, the opportunity to save a significant amount of money. According to estimates from the IRS, the national average cost to hire a paid tax-preparer is $273. Along with this added savings, tax refunds are often the largest paycheck a family receives, which are used to pay bills, pay off debt, or save for the future, among other things.
“To tell you how important this is, Ace Timmermeier, our community impact manager at the United Way, sent me a text this morning to see if this was on tonight’s agenda and if we had any issues with it,” Causey added. “Ace has done a great job in bringing the program here and this is just a great partnership for the community.”