Not to rush through the holidays, but tax season is quickly approaching.

Each year, low- to moderate-income Okaloosa County residents pay high fees to have their taxes prepared, sometimes spending hundreds of dollars.

Preparing your own taxes can be a very confusing process. The United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Okaloosa Extension Services are partnering this year to help relieve some of that confusion.

This year, the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program will be offered at the Okaloosa County Extension office in Crestview and Fort Walton Beach, and also the Walton County Extension office in DeFuniak Springs. Qualifying individuals and families are able to set an appointment to have their taxes prepared for absolutely no charge beginning Jan. 25.  

To prepare for this opportunity, the United Way and the Extension office are looking for individuals who would like to become certified tax volunteers. A free tax preparation class will be offered to all volunteers.

If you are a person willing to give a minimum of two hours per week to saving people in your community money, please contact: Jill Breslawski, family and consumer science agent, at the Okaloosa County Extension office at 850-689-5850, or or

Jill Breslawski is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.