PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — United Way of Northwest Florida’s Tax Assistance Program, VITA, gives residents a free and reliable way to get their taxes done.
Individuals who make less than $60,000, are disabled or are limited English speakers qualify for the program.
“It is a very confusing and tricky process,” President and CEO of United Way of Northwest Florida Gina Littleton said. “You’re never sure if you’re doing it quite correctly. Sometimes you put a number in that you think is right and everything changes at the end and you’re not sure why.”
All of the volunteers undergo both an IRS and ethics training course.
“You’re trained on the IRS software platform, and you have to go through certain requirements in order to be able to do tax returns at a certain level,” co-site coordinator for the VITA’s Panama City Branch Carol Jones said. “You’re also required to take an ethics training and an agreement.”
With four locations between Bay County and Gulf County, last year VITA saved residents nearly 2.8 million dollars.
“Without taking any of the fees away,” Jones said. “We’re known to bring in $2.8 million. Not to mention all the fees that were saved on all of the tax returns.”
If a document is missed and you get a letter from the IRS, VITA can help you address it.
“This happens when something people bring their stuff here and a document is forgotten and they don’t realize that until they get their tax return back and realize they haven’t submitted something,” Littleton said. “You can reach out to us, and [we’ll] help you get it corrected.”
If you prefer to do your own taxes, but have a question or don’t know where to start the volunteers are there to help.
Click here for a full list of locations and to book an appointment.