The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an IRS-sponsored program that offers free tax return preparation and general tax help to families and individuals. In Webb and Zapata counties in Texas the program is designed for families and individuals with incomes of $66,000 or less. VITA especially looks to provide services for the underserved, including persons with disabilities, the elderly, and those for whom English is a second language. Many TAMIU students become IRS-certified tax preparers and receive class credit for their VITA service hours. TAMIU has hosted a VITA site since 2011.
The VITA program requires and provides Internal Revenue Service (IRS) certification courses in tax law, which are free, for all its volunteers, who are drawn from several walks of life. Students—from Laredo ISD high schools, Laredo College, and TAMIU—as well as many non-student residents of the community volunteer in the program. Once certified, volunteers help citizens and non-citizens alike*; they especially seek to help those who, due to educational and/or language deficiencies, or due to age or disability, would be unable to navigate the income tax process alone.
In 2011, TAMIU became a member of the Laredo Family Economic Success Coalition (LFESC), a voluntary partnership of private and public organizations in Laredo that are stakeholders in the economic development and financial well-being of the community. The Coalition’s goals, broadly stated, are to help low to moderate-income families with free income tax assistance, financial literacy and education, asset building, and workforce development. As part of this mission the LFESC delivers the VITA program in Webb and Zapata counties in Texas. In these counties, as across the nation, the VITA program creates a substantial economic impact. TAMIU contributes to the mission of the LFESC by incentivizing the participation of many student volunteers and by providing a VITA site. Since 2016, TAMIU has also hosted the program’s tax law trainings in its Testing Center.
The Laredo Family Economic Success Coalition’s VITA program has received recognition for its contribution to the financial well-being of the community from several local public and private organizations, including the County of Webb and the City of Laredo. During the 2019 tax filing season, the program prepared over 6,000 tax returns and brought in over $11 million in federal tax refunds.
If you would like to get your taxes prepared for free, or have other questions, visit vitalaredo.org
or call (956) 307-8138.
Want to be a VITA Volunteer?
Trainings for the 2020 tax filing season will begin in November 2019. If you would like to be contacted prior to those trainings in order to register as a volunteer, please reach out to the VITA Program Coordinator, Jody Carlisle, at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Student Learning Outcomes
Many TAMIU students are IRS-certified volunteers and ready to help! Students who participate in the VITA program develop transferable skills to better equip themselves for future career opportunities. They also get to know their own community better. As volunteers in the VITA program, TAMIU students acquire several transferable skills:
- Interpersonal skills
- Practical skills
- Knowledge of federal tax law
- Personal responsibility
- School pride
*In order to prevent fraud, IRS guidelines stipulate that VITA volunteers must ask taxpayers for ID at its tax sites in addition to an original Social Security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An original Social Security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) must be provided for every person listed on the tax return. However—and this is a widespread misconception, especially in U.S. border regions—the VITA program is not concerned with the legality of an individual’s citizenship status or U.S. residence (and neither is the IRS); many non-citizens pay taxes. Anyone with taxable U.S. income and a Social Security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is eligible, regardless of their state of residence in the U.S., provided the complexity of the return is within the scope of the VITA program. Volunteers learn during tax law training which kinds of returns are in and out of scope.
Visite www.vitalaredo.org para mayor informacion sobre la preparacion de impuestos gratis.