Last spring, mathematical business major Christine Briere coordinated Wake Forest student participation in VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), a program supported by United Way of Forsyth County. Briere, a senior from Norcross, Ga., says that most of the volunteers were accounting students taking their first tax class, but there were also a few law students who participated.
“In total last spring, Wake Forest students volunteered over 730 hours and helped to complete over 500 tax returns for low-income Winston-Salem families,” says Briere. “United Way partner, Experiment in Self-Reliance estimates that Wake Forest students’ efforts saved the community over $100,000 in tax preparation fees!” Last year, VITA brought over $3.5 million back to Forsyth County in tax refunds.
“There is a direct benefit of the tax preparation being free, which could cost an average of $200 for families to pay to get their taxes done externally,” says Briere. “Additionally, were the families to do taxes on their own, it’s likely that they would miss out on the many tax credits available to them, including the significant Earned Income Tax Credit, which aids families and individuals who are employed but not making a substantial amount.”
Some of the ways VITA benefits the community are quite obvious for the families receiving services, but there are other benefits, too. Briere notes that bigger refunds resulting tax returns prepared by VITA volunteers are put back into the local economy.
If you want to get a get a closer look at how the VITA program works, join a special Wake Forest Impact Tour on March 13 at noon. Lunch is provided free of charge, and you will be picked up and dropped off in front of ZSR Library no later than 1:30 p.m. The bus tour will focus on United Way’s efforts to ensure financial stability in our community and will include a visit to the new Prosperity Center.
Space is limited, so use this link to register soon! The registration deadline is March 9.