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Volunteers needed to provide free tax assistance

What is a VITA site?

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) provides working families in the Bainbridge area with free tax preparation.

The VITA program allows families and individuals to receive every tax benefit available to them, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

VITA volunteers assist low to moderate-income families, as well as those with disabilities, non-English speaking individuals, and seniors, with free tax preparation. Taxes prepared by VITA Volunteers bring thousands of dollars back to Decatur County working families.

By volunteering, you can directly help boost a working family’s income by up to 40 percent. By increasing income to working families the VITA program directly effects the family’s or individual’s ability to become or remain financially stable.

You make a difference. For 2010 our goal is to once again increase the number of low-income working families served, and volunteers are the only way we can make this happen.

Why be a VITA Volunteer?

 The average cost of tax preparation is $150, and the average cost of a Refund Anticipation Loan is $150.

 The IRS estimates that 25 percent of the taxpayers that qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit do not claim the credit.

 Tax preparation is a unique volunteer opportunity and a great way to learn a new skill.

 No accounting experience is required. The tax software guides you every the step of the way, and the IRS provides free training.

 Volunteers are protected under the Volunteer Protection Act, which means no liability for volunteers.

 The time commitment is up to you. We request that you volunteer at least four days during the tax season.

Qualifications: Ability to learn some basic tax information; computer skills for inputting tax information; good interpersonal skills and comfort with a wide range of people; strong interest in helping low-income people learn about their rights; ability to take initiative and work without much supervision; and commitment strengthening families by increasing self-sufficiency.

Responsibilities:

1. Participate in basic tax law training online or face-to-face training.

2. Successfully pass a test on required tax law knowledge.

3. Conduct intake interviews to clarify financial situation and ensure that all allowable credits are claimed.

4. Provide high-quality tax return preparation to all taxpayers. Assist taxpayer’s with their return’s based on information provided by taxpayer and answer tax-related questions. Contact the IRS VITA support line for assistance when necessary.

5. Refer taxpayers with complex returns to the IRS assistance office.

6. Maintain confidentiality of taxpayer information.

7. Review completed tax returns for accuracy.

8. Ensure a copy of completed return is provided to the taxpayer.

9. Maintain accurate records of assistance provided.

The VITA site is open each Thursday starting Jan. 28, 2010, through April 8 from 12 to 3 p.m., and the first Saturday of February, March and April from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This VITA program is sponsored by Decatur County Family Connection’s Financial Literacy Strategy Team and the Southwest Georgia Regional Library.