With their youngest daughter at college, Robert Schmidt and his wife looked for ways to give back to their community. Robert read about United Way of Tarrant County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in his church bulletin and decided to sign up to help out.
Today, Robert is gearing up for his 12th tax season volunteering as a tax preparer at our Arlington VITA site locations. He’s been with the program almost since UWTC started running it in Tarrant County.
“I love to be able to help people that need and appreciate the help, and the people I have worked with in the VITA program are a joy to work with,” said Robert, who lives in Arlington.
Through the VITA program, UWTC volunteers provide free income tax preparation to households with incomes of $60,000 or less at VITA centers across the metroplex.
Over the past 13 years, more than 80,000 returns have been completed, resulting in over $149 million in tax refunds to Tarrant County families. Not only do we save them the cost of filing their taxes, but our IRS-certified volunteers make sure our clients receive the maximum refund possible.
For Robert, getting to make a difference in the lives of the clients he serves, especially the ones who need it most, is the best part of the job. Our volunteers understand that income tax refunds can deeply impact the financial situations of those we serve.
Several years ago, Robert helped the Parker* family file their taxes. Before coming to the VITA center, they used tax software to attempt to file their return and discovered they would only receive a small refund. They were discouraged and not in a hurry to file.
When Robert reviewed their documents and prepared their return, he found they could apply more deductions and realized they qualified for the child tax and earned income tax credits, leading to a larger refund.
The Parker family came in expecting to receive next to nothing, but with Robert’s help, they received a $6,000 refund. Upon hearing the news, Mrs. Parker burst into tears. Thanks to the assistance from Robert, the couple could repair their car and buy a washer and dryer, while still having some money to put away in savings.
“Not all my clients cry for joy, but that was pretty cool,” said Robert.
Robert encourages the community to give back by becoming a VITA volunteer. VITA provides free training, so even those with no prior experience are welcome to join.
“Step out of your comfort zone and come help people that need your help,” said Robert.
Join Robert and our volunteers to make a difference in a local family’s quality of life. Our volunteer opportunities include bilingual greeters, interpreters, savings ambassadors, intake specialists and tax preparers. With our many tax sites spread throughout Tarrant County, you’re sure to find a location near you.
To learn more about VITA, visit www.unitedwaytarrant.org/vita. You can also apply to become a volunteer at www.unitedwaytarrant.org/vita-volunteer.