CENTRAL TEXAS — United Way of Central Texas has dedicated 12 years to providing free tax returns through their VITA program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program) for anyone who qualifies.
"If you have a household that makes 55-thousand or less, you qualify," said Veshell Greene, VP of United Way of Central Texas-Resource Development.
2021 will be their 13th year providing free tax returns for hundreds of families.
" People who have someone prepare your taxes for free, when you normally pay $300 to $400, and they are done accurately for free. People are very appreciative," said Greene.
The VITA program would not be possible without volunteers like Leslie Minor.
"Preparing taxes can be stressful and worrying for many people, so we assist them and work them through the process," said Leslie Minor, volunteer.
All volunteers are IRS certified. In 2020, they prepared nearly 900 free tax returns and brought in over $1.3 million in refunds and almost $441,000 in earned income tax credits.
"I feel that what I am doing as a volunteer is not only beneficial to families but the community because the money that comes back is generally spent in local businesses," said Minor.
This year will be Minor's 7th-year volunteering. He says that throughout the years, he's not only met incredible people but learned some sweet history about Temple.
"It's a two-way street. I feel like I am giving something, but I am getting something back as well, and it's pleasant that a lot of people come back every year, and we get to know them over the tears," said Minor.
To keep everyone safe amid COVID-19, this year, things will look different. When people arrive for their appointment, a greeter will provide hand sanitizer and check temperatures.
"Even though married couples are supposed to be together, we are only taking one at a time," said Greene, "Again, we are just trying to keep everyone as safe as possible."
None the less, the goal of helping hundreds, especially during a pandemic, remains the same.
"It's just an incredible opportunity to provide this for families in the community," said Greene.
United Way of Central Texas will begin taking appointments starting on January 18th through their website.
If you would like to be a volunteer, there is still time, all you need to do is get IRS certified. You can reach out to UWCT for free access to materials that can help you pass. You can call them at 254-778- 8616.