United Way helps spread VITA Program across Tallahassee


Photo cred: heartlineoklahoma.org

The Partnership between Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and United Way gives Florida A&M University students the opportunity to learn how to file their own taxes. Now located on FAMU's campus, students have easier access to the services.

United Way joined VITA about 10 years ago to help expand the program across seven counties. With the help of IRS-Certified volunteers, VITA has been offering tax preparation services for 30 years.

VITA had one station at the Smith-William Center before United Way took over. Now, they have more than three stations located at FAMU, Tallahassee Community College and Amos P. Godby High school.

VITA Coordinator, Johnny Session briefly explained how it all started.

“The National Association of Black Accountants Tallahassee chapter along with the student chapter, would file taxes for the community for free,” Session said.  “United Way National organization wanted to get involved. I was already doing it,” added Session.

Each year during tax season, VITA offers this service to help Big Bend residents avoid costly fees.

Sessions have been held on FAMU’s campus, teaching and helping students become certified in tax preparation.

Jami Coleman, tax attorney and an adjunct professor at FAMU, has incorporated the program into her Individual Taxation class. Coleman expressed her excitement for the program’s existence on campus.

“I’m so happy that SBI has allowed us the space to work,” said Coleman.

She also mentioned the benefits that students receive from the class.

“Not only do the student learn bookwork, they also get practicality,” Coleman said.

In addition to tax preparation, the partnership is teaching taxpayers what it means to be financially stable.