The United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) provides FREE tax preparation to individuals and families earning up to $56,000 annually. VITA clients receive the maximum refund possible without paying hundreds of dollars in preparation costs. We helps taxpayers access all of the tax credits for which they are eligible – including the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC has been recognized as the single most powerful tool to lift children out of poverty. For many of our clients, their tax refund is the biggest check they'll receive all year. Claiming these credits puts clients on the path to paying off debt, securing better housing, obtaining dependable transportation, or pursuing higher education.
The Valet VITA program is an innovative service developed by United Way of Tucson that has received national recognition. Valet VITA is a model that uses technology to bring free tax preparation to almost any setting. It has been adopted by partners across Arizona and the United States. This development enables VITA services to be brought to schools, the workplace and some of the most remote areas of the country. Rae Pilarski, Senior Director of Financial Wellness Initiatives at United Way of Tucson was asked to speak at the 2018 Prosperity NOW Summit about Valet VITA. This program has also been recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Siemer Family Stability Program
In 2013, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona partnered with the Siemer Institute for Family Stability (SIFS) in a nation-wide movement addressing the issue of students’ learning being disrupted by financial crisis and homelessness. The goal of this project is to support families in a financial crisis so their children can remain in the same school, giving them the best chance at receiving a quality education. The project creates change by addressing and resolving the issues that push families to the brink of homelessness.
Meet a Volunteer
Scott just completed his first year as a United Way VITA volunteer. He joins dozens of other VITA Volunteers that enable this important program to take place each year. Volunteers are trained to become IRS certified tax preparers. Scott said, “This program helps low-income community members and that appealed to my wife and me so we decided to volunteer.” To Scott, United Way is important in our community because it provides impactful services and ultimately helps Tucson and Southern Arizona as a whole. “Tucson is as good as it gets. It is truly a unique environment and we were drawn by Tucson’s size, architecture, university and diverse cultures.”