United Way Seeks Volunteers for Annual Tax Prep Program

Giving Hearts Needed

by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County

The opportunity to blow out a potentially hazardous number of birthday candles on a cake (with your very own name frosted on top) comes once a year. Whether we like it or not, we cannot escape this annual event on the calendar. And unless you have a strong aversion to growing older, this is a day you probably don’t want to experience alone. In my opinion, birthdays are best shared with others.

Tax Day also comes every year, and while I have yet to see a Tax Cake, it is another experience that might be best shared with others as well. United Way of Charlotte County’s Volunteer Income Tax Preparation program (VITA) is staffed by friendly faces that want to share Tax Day with others, whether they look forward to tax prep time or not.

VITA offers free tax preparation for individuals and families earning up to $66,000 annually, saving them money and ensuring they receive all credits and deductions they are entitled to. Taxes are prepared at no charge by IRS certified volunteers who have a heart for serving others. If you have a heart for serving others, we want to hear from you!

Tax season runs from February through April, allowing our VITA volunteers the benefit of an impactful, yet short-term, commitment. Our goal for Tax Season 2022 is to have 50 VITA volunteers on our team. This includes IRS certified tax preparers, but also greeters and site coordinators. It takes a mix of skill sets and personalities to best serve our clients.

Before you put your dessert fork down and assume this isn’t for you, let me assure you that it doesn’t require an accounting background to help! All volunteers receive free comprehensive training and certification in partnership with the IRS. No experience is necessary.

We limit our clients to those whose returns are simple in scope and easily handled by tax preparation software that does the heavy lifting. Rest assured, you will have training, support and help along the way. Site coordinators are available to assist with any questions you have, and a quality review check is done on every return before it is filed.

Truly the only requirement to join our VITA team in 2022 is a heart for serving others.

There are tangible rewards for becoming a VITA volunteer:  you will gain valuable knowledge about tax preparation which can be useful for your own taxes, you can add this experience to your resume to demonstrate your agility at learning new computer software and working directly with clients, and most importantly, you will build relationships with others who really love this community. You will be part of a team of givers.

There are a variety of roles needed to ensure success at each Charlotte County tax preparation site (located in Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte and Englewood). Each volunteer role contributes to families’ financial stability every year. Behind every return there is a story. Volunteers hear these stories and experience first-hand how they are making a difference every time they volunteer.

United Way of Charlotte County sees many return volunteers who celebrate tax season with us each year. We would love to have you join our team in the coming months to share this annual opportunity to give and to serve in Charlotte County. It isn’t quite a birthday party, but it is a gift we can share with individuals and families who would otherwise struggle to afford traditional tax preparation costs.

Again, I have yet to see a Tax Cake, but I am willing to be proven wrong in 2022. (Candles are optional.) We will be hosting information nights on volunteering with VITA in November and would love to have you join us to learn more. If you are interested in becoming a VITA volunteer or have questions about the program, please reach out to us at VITA@unitedwayccfl.org with your contact information or visit www.unitedwayccfl.org/VITA for more details.

For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission:  Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at director@unitedwayccfl.org.