The United Way of La Porte County recently received a handsome donation from 1st Source Bank in the sum of $15,000. The reason behind the donation was the funding of the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program. If you've never heard of it, it's because it is still a new concept and is taking great strides to get off the ground. This event was only the second year Purdue University North Central and United Way have partnered for this VITA program, and this marks the first year of the professional relationship between United Way and 1st Source Bank.
The VITA program is used to assist individuals who make under $50,000 in yearly income file their taxes yearly. We can all attest to the costs and hassles of filing taxes on our own, or even with the assistance of professional organizations. With this, the people who take advantage of the program can have their taxes completed in a cost effective manner as this program utilizes I.R.S. Certified Volunteers to guide them. On top of using these I.R.S. Certified Volunteers, they also utilize students who are majoring in Accounting from PNC who are either in their junior or senior years. These students can then get direct, hands-on training in the field they are striving to get to. Cynthia Roberts, a professor at the PNC College of Business, is one of the professors involved in the process of getting these accounting students into this volunteer program.
When asked how this program directly effects these students she stated, "The VITA Program gives students real-world experience doing real forms, dealing with customers, and dealing with clients."
It's easy to see when you just look at the positive aspects this program gives Accounting Students, why the VITA program is a vital tool. When talking to Bob Ax, Regional President of 1st Source Bank, he stated that the 1st Source Institution has donated over $383,000 to over 17 counties in the past year and expressed great adulation for this program in particular.
"Last year, our local VITA program served 507 people with an Average Adjusted Gross Income of $16,476. The average cost of a tax return prepared commercially is $330. So not only did we save people $167,310, we also generated an average return of $1,570 in direct deposit refunds which totals $795,990," Ax said.
Those are some serious dollar amounts being saved through this program, and we can all agree we would love to have some extra coin in our pockets!
If you've ever prepared your own taxes, you will know first hand that the rules and laws alone can make you want to pull your hair out. If you haven't kept receipts for every Kit-Kat and coffee you've bought over the last year then filing on your own can be nearly impossible. Having people at your disposal willing to help you save money on your taxes with no financial gain of their own is nothing short of astonishing. Why continue throwing money away at professional tax services for service fees and processing fees with people waiting to help you for free? One would be silly not to take advantage of this great program.
Another great benefit of this program is it offers checking and savings accounts to people that were considered "non-banked" beforehand.
"With these direct deposits, 1st Source is on hand to help people who are not-banked for one reason or another, we can help return them return them to banking institutions and get them into finance classes," Dave Sisk Community Engagement Manager for the United Way of La Porte County expressed when asked how this benefits the people involved.
So not only are people being helped save money, but they also have the opportunity to learn how to wisely use this money in a constructive manner. It's not always enough to just save money for someone, but having the option to now learn how to budget your money can have one seeing green.
It was truly inspiring to see a group of people from different aspects of this foundation, be so genuinely excited about this program. After meeting and speaking with these people it became apparent that they truly want to help their communities at large become more prosperous. If you are presented with the opportunity to capitalize on this program, you'd be silly not too. After all, who doesn't like free money?
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