In our VITA program, we are fortunate to partner with Benedictine College. We have a great group of volunteers and interns from the school. VITA gives them an opportunity to hone their accounting skills while serving their community. As volunteer tax preparers, they have seen first-hand the extreme poverty some of our brothers and sisters experience. Conversely, the students have witnessed the joy and hope of some of the individuals when they are blessed with the opportunity to have their tax return prepared at no charge.

Linda is an example of someone who was blessed by VITA and the students from Benedictine. She is a single mom of two young girls who works at a local fast food restaurant in Atchison. Her yearly income in 2017 was just over $10,000. Linda expressed that she struggles financially. She is behind on rent and some of her bills. Additionally, she had not filed her 2016 taxes. A VITA volunteer from Benedictine prepared both her 2016 and 2017 taxes. Because Linda has an earned income from her job and provides most of the income for her children, she qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit both years. After the taxes were prepared and reviewed, Linda had to immediately go to work requiring her to return later to sign the paperwork and discuss her returns with the preparer. One of our interns asked Linda if it would be okay to bring the paperwork to her job. Linda indicated that would be great as she would not have to ask for time off.

The intern reported that as he discussed her returns with her, she became excited and thankful. She would be receiving a lot more money than she was hoping for. Not only would Linda be able to catch up on her bills, but she would have money left over. Combining the amounts from the two years, Linda will receive $10,822 from the federal government and $1,626 from the state of Kansas.

In just over an hour at Catholic Charities, Linda’s income more than doubled. The financial stress caused by debt will be removed. Linda also agreed to meet with PS for ongoing budget counseling to ensure the remainder of the money is used in a manner that mirrors Linda’s values and goals.