Each year, Georgia United Foundation and Georgia United Credit Union offers local communities free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) through support from longstanding partners Dalton State College and the University of Georgia (UGA).
The VITA program provides free tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with low to moderate income, those with disabilities and the elderly. Dalton State and UGA students are certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as tax preparers and earn academic credit for their participation in the VITA program. As part of the partnership, Georgia United Credit Union provides office space, giving the local community opportunities to have their taxes prepared and filed at no charge.
The Foundation’s VITA program, now in its fifteenth year, faced unforeseen challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with University System colleges closing for the year in mid-March. This, along with the credit union’s concern for the community and their team members’ well-being, resulted in the decision to end this year’s program earlier than planned.
Despite the challenges, the Foundation’s program concluded with student volunteers preparing 3,043 tax returns for residents, resulting in $464,161 in State and $2,259,424 in Federal tax refunds. A total of 148 students and alumni provided 300 hours of service to assist their community.
“VITA is an important program that positively impacts the financial stability of our communities and helps hard working individuals and families obtain access to tax preparation services,” said Kim Wall, director of business and community development at Georgia United. “We are proud to give back to our community and offer the UGA and Dalton State students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience.”