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United Way of Southwest Alabama / Uncategorized  / Resource Development  / The Economic Impact of VITA
The Economic Impact of VITA - April RD Blog

The Economic Impact of VITA

By Justine Bixler, UWSWA Vice President of Resource Development

On an annual basis, United Way of Southwest Alabama funds over 100 programs operated by our 46 non-profit partner agencies. In addition to these programs, our staff facilitates 11 internal programs that also provide direct services to individuals throughout our local community. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) is one of these 11 programs. The VITA program offers free basic tax return preparation for qualified individuals. The program has operated for over 50 years, offering free tax help to:

  • People who generally make $57,000 or less
  • Persons with disabilities; and
  • Limited English-speaking taxpayers
  • Who need assistance when preparing their own returns.

While the IRS manages VITA programs across the country, the local VITA sites are managed by IRS partners, like the United Way of Southwest Alabama. Our sites are staffed by local volunteers and lead by our very own Brad Martin, VITA Program Coordinator. Brad and his team of volunteers’ (including his incredible mother Donna) primary purpose is to make a difference in our community – and each day, with each one-on-one interaction with our local citizens they do just that.

An additional benefit to this service is the economic impact it generates for our area. In the last two years, 5,810 returns have been processed and filed with the IRS. These returns totaled $7,609,316 in refunds to local citizens. These dollars are then reinvested back into our community through mortgage/rent payments, utility payments, purchases of food, clothing and basic essentials, and through local business owners who rely on our community for support. Refunds generated through the VITA programs efforts help change the trajectory in a local business’s revenue, business profits, personal wages, and helps support the creation and stabilization of local jobs.

United Way of Southwest Alabama raises funding to support this program each year. Although VITA is free for clients, there are various expenses associated with facilitating the program including staff time, computers, printers, software and technology used to prepare the returns, and additional materials needed to support each site. The IRS provides training materials and official documentation needed for the client intake process and support throughout the filing process. The VITA program is funded by grantors, corporate donors and through financial support received during the annual campaign. Major financial supporters of the program include: Impact Alabama, PNC Financial, The First, Truist Bank formally BB&T, Crampton Trust, and Ben May Trust. We are grateful for their investment, particularly for their support of low-to-moderate income individuals and neighborhoods in our local community, and their dedication to improving our economy throughout Mobile County.

If you are interested in contributing towards the VITA Program, please contact Justine Bixler at 251-431-0134 or JBixler@uwswa.org.

 

By Justine Bixler, UWSWA Vice President of Resource Development

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