VITA sites throughout Tarrant County closed March 16 amid the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The Internal Revenue Service then extended the filing deadline for 2019 income tax returns to July 15.
Since closing its in-person services, VITA has offered its free “Taxes to Go!” service online and through email. VITA is available to qualifying families with household incomes of $58,000 or less for the 2019 calendar year.
“[VITA] is a program that really puts the money back in the pockets of the people who earned it,” GRACE Chief Program Officer Stacy Pacholick said. “It is an amazing opportunity, especially for people that struggle month to month to make ends meet.”
Volunteers began assisting qualifying families at the Grapevine nonprofit organization on Jan. 28 and completed 235 returns before stopping face-to-face interactions, Pacholick said.
“[That] was an increase of 64% when compared to the numbers we were able to serve in the same amount of time last year,” Pacholick said via email. “We were well on our way to hit an all-time high in the number of returns completed!”
Pacholick said the VITA program located at GRACE, 837 E. Walnut St., completed 383 returns last year that yielded tax refunds of more than $650,000.
While the United Way of Tarrant County, which administers the county's VITA program, plans to reopen the service July 1, officials said the agency will be monitoring the pandemic in case that scheduled date needs to change.
When the program does resume, Pacholick said she expects there to be significant demand for the walk-in service.
“I think that people held on to the thinking that we would be able to get back to a point where they would be able to [file] through VITA,” Pacholick said. “So when they do come back in person, I do think that the numbers of requests [for the service] is going to be pretty high.”
She said the success of the VITA program at GRACE has been due to the volunteers who dedicated their time. GRACE plans to offer trainings in the fall for those looking to volunteer for next year’s program, Pacholick said. Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering with VITA next year can contact Pacholick at 817-305-4636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on VITA can be obtained by emailing email@example.com or calling 817-258-8000.