Faces of Success: Sara Evans
Adversity causes us to look for a symbol of hope or a sign of reassurance. Sara Evans recently became unemployed for the first time. She was driving down Foster Street last month when it happened; the timing was excellent.
“I saw the sign for free tax preparation, and it really piqued my interest,” said Evans. “I just started crying.”
Evans previously paid hundreds of dollars to file her tax returns at paid providers. This wasn’t an option for her this year, so she looked into the free tax preparation services offered through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, powered by United Way. IRS-certified volunteers prepare and file free tax returns for individuals and families earning less than $62,000 in 2015.
“It’s most accommodating to have a service in place for people who just don’t have the extra money to pay to file their tax returns,” said Evans.
Last year, the average taxpayer spent $260 to file their returns at paid service providers. In 2015, IRS-certified VITA volunteers saved hard-working Middle Tennesseans almost $3.8 million in filing fees. Evans was so thrilled about her experience at the Sam Levy VITA Free Tax Prep Site that she had to tell others about the program.
“I called all of my friends and former colleagues and said, ‘We usually spend hundreds of dollars every year to file our taxes. If you qualify, there’s a free program that’s available and the customer service is awesome! The volunteers are very helpful and informative.’”
In 2015, VITA volunteers filed nearly 14,500 free returns for hard-working Middle Tennessee households. They returned more than $23 million in refunds and credits back to the community. An IRS-certified VITA volunteer even helped Evans correct an error on one of her tax forms. It translated into a huge break for her and her family.
“When they saw a red flag, the volunteer gave me very specific instructions to obtain the information I needed to correct this issue. A refund is critical to me because I reinvest the funds into my children’s education. As a single parent, it’s critical for me to be able to support them.”
That’s still possible, thanks to the VITA Free Tax Prep program. The Sam Levy VITA Free Tax Prep Site — one of two United Way operated VITA Free Tax Prep sites in Davidson County — served as the symbol of hope and sign of reassurance that Evans needed to help her overcome unexpected adversity caused by unemployment. Talk about excellent timing.