Community Impact Financial Stability Pathway Faces of Success: Gabriella Papa
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Title Financial Stability Pathway

Faces of Success: Gabriella Papa

By 2035, Nashville’s population is expected to reach 2.6 million people. The extraordinary growth our community continues to experience is also creating transportation nightmares for residents like Gabriella Papa.

“I’m trying to save money for a car, but I can’t afford to buy one right now so I depend on public transportation,” said Papa. “I recently moved from Italy, and public transportation is much more reliable there.”

Papa works full-time and is also paying her way through school. Last spring, she was hoping to maximize her tax refund but didn’t want to pay to have her taxes prepared and filed. Papa turned to United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Free Tax Prep program. The VITA Free Tax Prep program provides free income tax preparation to individuals and families who qualify based on income.

“In 2015, I ended up paying $300 to have my taxes prepared by an accountant. I needed help again in 2016; luckily, a colleague of mine referred me to the location at Vanderbilt.”

Last year, VITA volunteers also assisted qualified individuals and families with free online tax filing, thanks to a United Way partnership with the Walmart Foundation and United Way Worldwide, known as This option was perfect for Papa because an IRS-certified volunteer at the Vanderbilt site helped her with questions while she used the on-site computer to file.                             

“If you don’t have a tax background, sometimes all of the paperwork and codes can get very confusing. I wanted to make sure I filed correctly; my volunteer was very patient and answered all of my questions.”

Over the past six years, IRS-certified VITA volunteers have prepared and filed tax returns for more than 73,000 clients through the VITA Free Tax Prep program. During this same time period, individuals and families have received more than $137 million in tax refunds and credits. Papa is thankful she had the opportunity to utilize the VITA Free Tax Prep program to save money on the cost of tax preparation fees and recommends it to others.

“Organizations like United Way improve the quality of life for people like me. I think the VITA Free Tax Prep program is amazing.”

If you are looking for some additional financial flexibility in your life this tax season and meet income qualifications, consider utilizing the VITA Free Tax Prep program to file your tax returns. Like Papa, you might be amazed by the results.

For more information about the VITA Free Tax Prep program, please click here.

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