VITA Program Background The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance VITA by barto

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									                                        VITA Program

Background:
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has been in existence for 38
years however; within the last few years we have enlisted the assistance of external partners
to host VITA sites in an effort to further reach the needs of the community, specifically low to
moderate income families and individuals. Prior to this, IRS employees manned the sites,
which were located in IRS offices.


Methodology:
At the VITA site, taxpayers' returns (specifically low to moderate-income families and
individuals) are prepared free of charge and most times electronically transmitted to IRS
Submission Processing Centers, where refunds are issued within 2 weeks. Community
volunteers are trained by the IRS to prepare returns at sites designated by the external partner.
If your credit union elects to host a VITA site, you must identify a site location, solicit
volunteers and IRS will provide the necessary training and software required.


How Can Financial Institutions Help:
IRS continues to market the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit
(CTC), both of which can generate a substantial refund. For example, for this past tax year
2006, working families, earning less than $38,438 could have been eligible for an EITC
refund of up to $4,536. For 2007, eligible taxpayers earning less that $37,783 would be
eligible for up to $4,717 in EITC. In years past, so much of the EITC refund went unclaimed
by those taxpayers who benefited most. Reaching out to the community, disseminating and
marketing the tax credits through external partners in various communities, increases chances
of reaching those individuals who qualify for the credit.

The VITA sites are opened from January through April, and training of volunteers is usually
conducted in late December or early January. Financial institutions can elect to host VITA
sites at their institution or other location. Your employees can frequent existing VITA sites
and discuss services offered by your institution. In addition, if the taxpayer elects to deposit
his or her EITC refund into your financial institution, low or no cost savings accounts or other
transaction accounts, can be offered. By exposing a largely "unbanked" population to bank
services offered, creates a whole new opportunity for those families. Financial institutions
could also offer financial literacy training, budget counseling or involve those individuals in
other programs offered in your community.


If interested what should I do:
IRS Territory offices are located throughout the United States in large metropolitan cities, and
location of existing VITA sites are easily obtainable. If your financial institution is interested,
the Territory Manager nearest your credit union office can be contacted so that you can
discuss your credit union's involvement. We can assist you with planning and coordinating
those efforts as well. It is never too early to get started planning and identifying resources.
Contact the IRS at www.partner@irs.gov for more information.

								
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