For many of our hardworking neighbors, a tax refund is life-changing. It can be the difference between making rent or becoming homeless. It can transform into a vehicle for getting to school or children to daycare. But many of these life-changing outcomes only happen when they receive their full tax refund. You can help make this happen by volunteering with Indy Free Tax Prep.
Indy Free Tax Prep is a network of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in Central Indiana serving Marion, Hendricks, Boone and Morgan counties. Indy Free Tax Prep is an IRS-sponsored and volunteer-run program that provides free tax preparation to individuals and families with a combined household income of $64,000 or less. This past tax season, VITA volunteers helped prepare over 6,000 tax returns, helping our community save almost $2 million in tax prep services. The best part? Volunteers helped return $8 million to members of our community, right here in Central Indiana.
For a single mom or college student, that full tax refund can make a world of difference. Volunteers like Tom Noonan and Joseph Phillips have seen this first-hand. “I had a client who would have paid over $400 to file their taxes elsewhere. By filing through Indy Free Tax Prep, she received her full refund from her mortgage deduction, and that $400 will go a long way,” Tom says.
The tax refunds provided to Indy Free Tax Prep clients are helping create financially stronger households. “It’s educational; once they have seen the process, they see that they can do this,” says Joseph. Tom likes to review his client’s W-2 with them, “showing them that they are getting their own money back–it is not a gift, it is getting a big portion of their money back they worked hard to earn.”
But the clients are not the only ones who learn; VITA volunteers go through extensive training courses provided by the IRS to become certified tax preparers. They learn how to identify all available tax credits for their clients. Volunteers enjoy the challenge of learning a new skill and can get their training in-person or online. Many volunteers have no previous experience in tax preparation or finance. “We’re always looking for more volunteers. People will say, “well I’m not a CPA” but I’m not either! I’m a salesman technically. The CPAs can’t do it because this is their busy time, that’s why we get certified,” explains Tom.
Without volunteers of tax preparers, site greeters and site coordinators, Indy Free Tax Prep would not be able to help put millions of dollars back into the hands of our Central Indiana neighbors. Without dedicated people like Joseph and Tom, many people in our community would be forced to make difficult choices when faced with paying a large fee to file their taxes. “Volunteering with VITA is a way of encouraging other people who feel like they have nothing else to give, like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. It’s a way to help them to continue to fight through the barriers and look for a better way,” Joseph says.
Are you ready to break down barriers and help Indy Free Tax Prep in the fight for financial stability of Central Indiana families? You can make a difference by becoming a volunteer. To learn more and sign up, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Indy Free Tax Prep is on a mission to help even more people this upcoming tax season, but they can’t do it without volunteers like you.