LU's VITA program to provide tax assistance to Southeast Texas community

Whether you have a mind for numbers or a personality for people, if you have a heart for volunteer work, you can be part of a program that each year improves the lives of hundreds of working families –– the Beaumont area's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA.
The VITA program is managed by Lamar University's Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations and includes nearly a dozen agencies or businesses that partner together to provide free tax preparation for qualified income residents earning up to$59,000.
Last year, VITA volunteers staffed six sites. More than 700 returns were prepared, resulting in total refunds of more than $800,000. Since its inception in 2009, the program has brought in more than $11 million in refunds, which includes Earned Income Tax Credits as well as Education Credits. By providing tax preparation free of charge, filers save an average of $250 in filing fees, meaning they keep all their refund.
"This is a unique volunteer role," said Jon Korejwa, director of the Lamar University VITA Program. "Tax preparation requires computer skills while other roles are people oriented. All roles are a true commitment to serve our neighbors.”
He added that program growth is pushing the need for a larger pool of volunteers for the 10 weeks it operates, beginning in February.Multiple sites and varying hours provide volunteers with opportunities that fit their schedules.
"This year, we have added new partners and new sites," he said. "All of our volunteers will receive training and certification for whatever role they may take, whether handling tax preparation or working    in other areas, such as intake and reception, which are essential in facilitating the program."
IRS-certified training is held on the LU campus in January of 2023 and tax preparation will begin the first week of February.
The local program began with a partnership of Lamar University and Entergy Texas, Inc. and has since grown to include Catholic charities, United Way of Beaumont and North Jefferson County, St. Vincent DePaul in Raywood, Texas, and the Jackson Center inOrange, Texas.
Those interested in volunteering may call Jon Korejwa, VITA program director, at 260-385-8720 or contact him by email at