Southwest Florida Resident Files Taxes Free of Charge to Those in Need

Daily Point of Light # 6266 May 22, 2018
This tax season, Giancarlos (right) and his volunteer team returned nearly $100,000 for the low-to-moderate-income Collier County taxpayers./Courtesy Giancarlos Castano

Giancarlos Castano was attending an event with multiple nonprofit organizations when United Way asked him if he would be interested in volunteering with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program; he immediately accepted. 

“I was waiting for an opportunity like this one to help my community,” said Giancarlos.

He has been a volunteer with United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for several years now. He completed the IRS advanced level certification and additional training courses to become a Goodwill site coordinator. Through the program, he became certified to file taxes free of charge to those in need.

“I am inspired to volunteer because I love the Southwest Florida community. This is an amazing, diverse and inclusive community with a lot of need,” Giancarlos said. “We have people who come here from all over the world and they need to save money any way possible.”

This tax season, Giancarlos and his volunteer team spent their Saturdays filing more than 100 tax returns for Collier County residents. Their work returned nearly $100,000 for the low-to-moderate-income taxpayers. He also serves as a translator for five other tax sites.

The most rewarding part of my volunteer work is seeing the expression in people’s faces when they get what they need,” he said. “They ask, ‘How can they pay me?’ I tell them seeing them happy is the most beneficial gift.”

Giancarlos is inspired to volunteer because of his love for the Southwest Florida community./Courtesy Giancarlos Castano

He also spreads the word about the VITA program by interviewing with the local Spanish news station to help make the community aware of the service.

I think it is important to give back in any way you can. Volunteering is the most beautiful decision a person can make for the community because it helps us grow,” Giancarlos shares. “It is important to do something meaningful for the community. I have been in need and others helped me, so the best thing I can do now is help others.”

He says his volunteer work has taught him to learn to have empathy for others. “It has helped me grow as a person, emotionally and spiritually. My volunteer work is not just about taxes, I have spent time talking to the people and they have opened their hearts and shared their stories.”

Giancarlos says he wants people to learn one of the greatest things a person can do is to help others. “Volunteering brings fulfillment and satisfaction. Using any skill you have, you should be giving back to the community.”

This post was written by Karen Cohen. 

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Giancarlos? Visit All For Good to find local volunteer opportunities.


Brenda Solis