In partnership with United Way and the City of Fort Worth, many households in our community were able to receive free basic tax preparation through VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), which took place at GRACE Main from January 28 through April 17.  The services were provided not only to alleviate the burden of tax preparation, but also to allow low to middle income families to take advantage of identified Earned Income Tax Credits, financial coaching referrals and opportunities for continued education.

VITA is provided by a partnership between United Way, the City of Fort Worth and GRACE, offering 100% free-of-charge tax preparation services to families who earn less than $56,000 annually.  This program puts hard earned dollars back into the hands of the individuals who earned them.  Not only are the services free, but they have also rendered better tax benefit returns this year and in past years.

GRACE’s IRS-certified volunteers processed 383 returns this tax season which is a 57% increase from our total in 2018!  These generated an overall refund amount of over $653,000 – an 86% increase from 2018!  Of the 383 returns processed, 81 qualified for Earned Income Tax Credits amounting to over $219,000  These are dollars that are often left on the table when paying an outside source for tax preparation, not to mention the fact that this $653,000 plus are dollars that are returned back to OUR community.  Plus, we saw a 130% increase in Child Tax Credits totaling over $212,000.

According to GRACE Chief Program Officer, Stacy Pacholick, VITA’s success reinforces the mission of GRACE. “Our community saw a 57% increase of returns compared to 2018, which translates into more families equipped with the means to pay rent, utilities and save for the future,” says Pacholick.  “The value of this service could not be overstated, not only are refunds rightfully given back to the people who paid them, the teachable moments are boundless.”

The key to the massive outpouring of support for this program is centered in the volunteers who provide the service.  Numerous tax preparers, intake specialists and interpreters worked through the April 17 filing deadline to assure all who qualify could take advantage of VITA services.  VITA tax preparers are trained to catch details that are easily and frequently missed by other tax preparation offices that charge high fees for their services.

We owe a tremendous amount of thanks to all the volunteers who gave their energy and expertise to families in our community!

It is all thanks to you, Jim, Eleonara, William, Alfredo, Liz, Andrea, Esmirna, Fernando, Russ, Flor, and Jacob, that we reached the astounding numbers we did and helped so many this tax season!  Another heartfelt thank you to City of Fort Worth employees Kristina Wynn, Gayle Jewell, Jeanette Hopkins, and Beverly Watkins for your hardwork.

If you are passionate about helping families overcome hardship through financial education and are interested in learning more about volunteering for VITA next tax season, please contact Stacy Pacholick or call (817) 305-4636 for more information.  And for those interested in taking advantage of the VITA program next year, stay tuned for details!