Yesterday I hosted a brief celebration for a group of 10 volunteers who gave up evenings and Saturdays for several months to prepare tax returns for low-income residents in our community.
This is a huge commitment by people that is replicated all over the country each year, from January - April. It's actually even longer than that, as many of them spend some time in December getting trained in tax law and the software used by IRS VITA Sites like ours. VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the IRS provides training, support materials, and support throughout the tax preparation process. It's a great collaboration that brings more money (in refunds) to low-income taxpayers and means they don't have to spend money to get their returns prepared properly.
This is our 3rd year as a VITA Site and in the past 2 years, we've really gelled as a site and the volunteers very quickly bonded and worked as a team. Without these dedicated, talented folks, we could not provide this service.
So, even as I thank them, I am looking forward to expansion. Last year, our site remained open through October 15 so we could help people file for the Economic Stimulus Payment. This year, we will remain open through October 15 so we can accommodate late filers and people who have past returns to file. We also plan to run Saturday workshops and seminars on tax topics. Again, tough to do without our dedicated volunteers.
I tip my hat to all the volunteers out there who give up their family and leisure time to help their community. These unsung heroes are the heartbeat of so many programs that could not provide great service without them.