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VITA program to offer free tax help again in 2023

After successfully helping Gulf County residents achieve more than $230,000 in tax returns last year, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program will be returning to local libraries, where they hope to replicate their success.

“We’re going to do Wewahitchka for two days (a week) and then Port St. Joe for two days, and I think it’s going to work out really well,” said Joan Hill, who helped coordinate the program in Gulf County last year and who is leading the effort again in 2023.

Hill said she expects to see similar success from the program this year, though she noted that the child tax credit has been reduced back to normal levels after having been elevated in the aftermath of the pandemic.

She also mentioned that the group was working with a larger number of volunteer tax preparers this year.

“I was so pleased that almost 100 percent of the volunteers that we had last year are back again this year. And I ended up getting another six or seven volunteers on top of that.,” said Hill.

The VITA program is operated by United Way of Northwest Florida. Though the program is still relatively new in Gulf County, it has a long-running history nationwide. 

Appointments will be available at both Gulf County libraries between Jan. 30 and April 18, when tax season ends.

You do not have to be a resident of Gulf County to participate. VITA sites offer free tax help to people who need assistance in preparing their own returns, including people who generally make less than $58,000, persons with disabilities and limited English-speaking taxpayers.

Volunteers go through a rigorous training process before they are allowed to help, which is made up of a series of digital tests and scenarios and takes upwards of 24 hours to study for and complete.

For more information about the program or to schedule an appointment, visit http://www.bit.ly/RealSenseTaxes or call 904-632-0600. If you need in-person assistance scheduling an appointment, you can visit the Two Fish Market, CareerSource or either of the county’s public libraries. 

VITA asks that you bring a photo ID, a checkbook for direct deposit of any refund, social security cards for yourself and all dependents, a W-2 from each employer, documentation of all other income and a 1095-A if you received Marketplace health coverage.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor


  1. I would like to make an appointment to receive help to file 2022 taxes at the Wewahitchka library. Thank you

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