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West Palm Beach, FL
 
 
 
Contact Information

If you, your business, or organization are interested in becoming a part of the Disability Initiative Workgroup, please contact Kasha Owers, Prosperity Campaign Director, United Way of Palm Beach County's Prosperity Campaign at [email protected].

If you are already a member of the Disability Initiative Workgroup and have questions regarding the IRS participation, then please contact Shanana Bartolomei at [email protected].  

If you are already a member of the Disability Initiative Workgroup and have questions regarding the IRS participation, then please contact Shanana Bartolomei at [email protected].  

 
Disability Initiative Workgroup

United Way of Palm Beach County plans to implement its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program for the seventh consecutive filing season beginning January 2010. The VITA Program, which filed more than 9,500 tax returns last year on behalf of local residents, partners with several nonprofit agencies that provide essential services to persons with disabilities. These agencies, which serve as VITA sites where community members can go to receive free tax preparation assistance, include Gulfstream Goodwill, Palm Beach Habilitation Center, and the Coalition for Independent Living Options (CILO). In addition, we partnered with the Deaf Service Center, Oakwood Center of the Palm Beaches, and Jeff Industries to provide tax preparation assistance to their clients.

Data from the 2009 filing season shows that approximately 20% of United Ways VITA customers reported having a family member with a disability. This is a substantial number and we expect it to increase with the addition of a mandatory disability question on the IRS intake form and TaxWise Software. These considerations show a need to enhance and expand our partnerships with local disability providers. While we continue to collaborate with several key agencies to provide free tax preparation at their location, we are also focused on establishing new relationships to address the growing needs of the disability community. In anticipation of this filing season, we will continue targeted outreach to the disability community. This will include conducting presentations to counselors at Vocational Rehabilitation in Palm Beach County, Gulfstream Goodwill, and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service Center. We will also work with Gulfstream Goodwill and the Palm Beach Habilitation Center to disburse flyers to their thrift store employees. We will also seek out opportunities to conduct presentations and/or provide information to our Promoting Independence for Persons with Disabilities Impact Partners.

With regard to special events, we are once again planning to hold a press conference on National Earned Income Tax Credit Day. This will be an opportunity to have a formal VITA kick-off event. It will closely follow the beginning of filing season 2010; highlight our free tax preparation service and the tax credits that are available to community members; and create an awareness of the relationship between free tax preparation assistance, increased wealth through tax refunds, and additional community services that promote economic self-sufficiency. We will invite elected officials, agency partners, and local stakeholders in the cause of financial stability. United Way of Palm Beach County continues to seek ways to collaborate with its VITA partners to introduce new services to the local disability community. One such program is Project SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery) through which our organization, in partnership with Gulfstream Goodwill, Oakwood Center of the Palm Beaches, and CILO, among others, is exploring ways to improve supportive employment for persons with disabilities in Palm Beach County.