Serve Your Community with United Way’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign
Tax season will be here before you know it. For many, particularly folks without the resources to hire a professional accountant, tax season can be a confusing and stressful time of the year. Are there any new credits to claim? Have the income brackets changed? Why isn’t my refund as big as I was expecting, or why is it so much more this year? Why is it so expensive to file my return? United Way of King County’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign is here to help find answers to these questions.
From January through April, United Way will offer free, walk-in tax preparation assistance at locations across King County. We also offer connections to community resources and public benefits for those who need them—vital services only made available by the time and attention of our dedicated volunteers.
Older adults and retirees have long been crucial to our success. As volunteers, you bring extensive and valuable work experience. Your lifetime experience and talents—personal and professional—make you an outstanding team member with the ability to make a difference in the lives of your neighbors.
Does joining the Free Tax Team sound interesting to you? Please continue reading to find out more about our program!
The Free Tax Preparation Campaign is one of the largest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Programs in the nation, and the largest in the state of Washington. The IRS created VITA in 1969 to establish partnerships between the IRS and community-based organizations throughout the country. Programs like ours play an important role in reducing poverty and empowering the people in our community through free tax assistance and resource referrals.
For many who come to our sites for help, tax credits and refunds are critical to meeting their basic needs, keeping food on their tables, and a roof over their heads. Since its inception in 2003, United Way of King County has served more than 150,000 clients and distributed more than $200 million in tax refunds.
COVID-19 has had a profound effect on the program—both our volunteer base and the people we serve. In response to the pandemic, we moved our tax prep services online in 2020, then shifted back to a full in-person service model in 2022. For tax season 2023, we are planning to reopen many of our old tax sites, and we need volunteers like you to join the cause.
2023 will also be an important year for Washington state residents, as the Working Families Tax Credit will roll out for low-income individuals and families next year. The Free Tax Preparation Campaign is committed to ensuring that every client who walks through our doors will have the opportunity to apply for this new credit.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our program. They come back year after year for many reasons. Some love to meet and connect with new people every week, enjoying the opportunity to chat with folks about their lives, work, children, and grandchildren—all while preparing taxes. Others participate to learn more about taxes, and to gain enough confidence and experience to prepare their own taxes— as well as their friends’ and family’s tax returns, once everyone finds out where they’ve been volunteering! Others are passionate about the powerful impacts tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit have on poverty, particularly child poverty. Finally, many of our volunteers simply enjoy the experience of preparing returns and informing clients about the thousands of dollars in tax refunds that they will receive.
Interested in getting involved but don’t feel comfortable handling someone’s return? We would love to have you on our intake team!
Our intake volunteers are crucial to our tax sites, and the role is fun and easy—you greet clients and help them get their documents ready, connect them with community resources, then place them with a tax preparer. This is the perfect role for someone who enjoys chatting with people.
This year, we invite you to join us for one 3–5 hour shift each week from January 9 to April 20. While volunteers are needed at all locations throughout King County, the need for help is greatest in the following neighborhoods: Lake City, Rainier Valley, Tukwila, Kent, Federal Way, and Renton. We encourage you to participate, share your experience, and help grow our campaign. Older volunteers truly make a difference.
For more information and sign up to volunteer, visit www.uwkc.org/taxvolunteer.
Questions? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributor Casey Lantz is the Outreach and Relationship Specialist with the Tax Credits and Financial Stability team at United Way of King County.