United Way of Tarrant County partnered with Texas Wesleyan to create a class where students could learn and earn certifications while giving back to the community.
This semester, 20 students in the School of Business Administration have enrolled in hopes of completing the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) IRS Advance Tax Payer Certification. Once certified, they will volunteer at VITA centers around the community. Last spring, 14 students completed the program and spent hundreds of hours volunteering.
The special topics course at Texas Wesleyan teaches students to interact with clients politely and professionally in a service environment. They learn tax law basics and apply it to federal tax returns for low-income taxpayers in the local community. Students also learn techniques to identify and discuss tax issues in an easy to understand way with taxpayers that use the VITA program.
Last year, 14 Texas Wesleyan students volunteered 1,024 hours during their time at VITA sites and completed an average of about 40 tax returns per student. After becoming VITA certified, students were required to volunteer for 66 hours. During their volunteer weeks, students wrote reflections about their experience volunteering.
“This first year has been an awesome experience for United Way and TXWES. I look forward to more students participating in this class and helping low-income families save the fees associated with tax preparation,” Pennie Clayton, VITA coordinator for United Way said.
You can help support United Way and programs like VITA succeed in the community. Look for more information on the upcoming donation drive here at Texas Wesleyan.
Here is what a few students had to say about taking part in the VITA course at Texas Wesleyan:
"I not only learned how to do basic income tax returns, but I also learned how important and how much of a difference volunteering and being a part of your community helps you as a person and as an employee."
"I was able to get out of my comfort zone and was able to talk with all sorts of people. Many of the clients that came in were very respectful and thankful for our help and it felt good providing this service for them. I made some good connections with the people I volunteered with as well. I will definitely continue to support this program in the future."
"One of the highlights to my week is getting a chance to interact with some amazing people. The VITA program gives these clients hope and peace of mind. It is one last issue off their plate that they don’t have to worry about or pay astronomical fees to resolve."
During the Tax Season (February – April), the VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $55,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified VITA volunteers provide basic income tax return services without charge, ensuring 100 percent of the tax refund goes directly to the customer.