Volunteer Income Tax Assistance FAQs

Get answers to frequently asked questions about participating in the VITA program.


The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a volunteer-driven program that provides free tax preparation and asset development services to low- and moderate-income taxpayers, the elderly and those with disabilities.

Yes, interpreters are available to assist Spanish speaking residents. 

The VITA program is aimed at people who cannot afford to pay for tax preparation assistance. VITA is targeted at families and individuals who make $60,000 or less annually. However, if you have suffered a job loss or other financial hardship, the program is flexible and may be able to accommodate you.

VITA volunteers can prepare most basic federal and state returns utilizing the 1040 and 1040EZ forms. They can also prepare the related schedules, such as A, B, C, & D with some restrictions.   Volunteers cannot prepare returns with a filing status of Married Filing Separately (MFS) or amended returns if the return was not originally prepared by VITA. 

Yes. Many of VITA's volunteers have experience in accounting and taxes. Volunteers go through an intensive, IRS developed a training program specifically for VITA volunteers. Finally, every volunteer must pass an IRS certification test; no one is allowed to prepare taxes until they have completed their Volunteer Standards of Conduct, Basic or Advanced Certification, and the Site Coordinator retains their certification on file.

Yes. The IRS maintains strict rules about privacy and security. Each site must have the ability to lock up all physical tax information. In addition, the sites use secured computers and only the IRS and limited personnel can access tax information once it has been prepared and submitted. The IRS will provide the City information such as the total amount refunded by the VITA site, or the total number of returns processed by the site, but no personal or individually identifiable information is ever released through the VITA program.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program, the largest federal tax benefit program, provides more than $43 billion to low and middle income working families and individuals. The EITC can be worth as much as $5,657 per family. Unfortunately, up to 25% of those eligible are not aware of the program and millions of dollars remain unclaimed by families and individuals that need the money. Making sure VITA includes the EITC is one of the most effective ways to help families increase their income and get the full refund they are entitled to.

VITA averages about an hour per return. However, the time required will vary depending upon the complexity of the return and availability of tax preparers.

Yes, VITA sites can do direct deposit. Direct deposit tends to be significantly faster than a mailed check, often within as little as eight days after filing. 

Yes, VITA sites primarily use electronic filing. If you need a paper return the sites can do that as well.

A number of factors affect how quickly refunds are processed and deposited, but often refunds can be processed in a few weeks.

Please email VITA or call Mesa United Way at 480-834-2122.