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By Linda Ezuka | February 18, 2021 | 3 Minute Read

Community Involvement Ideas During COVID - VITA

Are you looking for impactful, CRA-qualified volunteer opportunities during the pandemic?  
The IRS and local social service nonprofits in your communities are looking for volunteers to support the IRS's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a free, basic tax return preparation service for qualified individuals. 
The program enables the earned income tax credit (EITC), a tax credit that helps certain U.S. taxpayers with low incomes report for the tax year. The EITC reduces the amount of tax owed on a dollar-for-dollar basis and may result in a refund to the taxpayer if the credit amount is greater than the amount of tax owed.
Households that qualify for the EITC can reduce their tax liability to zero, in which case they'll owe no income taxes and will be refunded any taxes that were withheld during the year. If the income tax owed is reduced to below zero, the government will issue a tax refund for the difference.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

You can volunteer through various VITA sites, usually run by local nonprofit organizations (Goodwill, YMCA, Catholic Charities, etc.). As long as you're volunteering on behalf of the bank, your time spent volunteering will count as a qualified community development service because it is related to the provision of financial services. The VITA program expressly serves low- and moderate-income individuals.  
The VITA program has operated for over 50 years, offering free tax help to those who need assistance preparing their own tax returns, such as: 
• People who generally make $57,000 or less
• Persons with disabilities; and
• Limited English-speaking taxpayers


Where To Start

While the IRS manages the VITA program, the VITA sites are managed by IRS partners and staffed by volunteers who want to make a difference in their communities. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with nonprofit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.
Either go to the IRS website or access the search tool, which will list the local VITA sites in your local assessment areas. Reach out to one of the local nonprofit service providers to get involved in the VITA program. You'll start by training online. Then you'll be deployed and will help prepare tax returns and other VITA program support activities.  
Don’t worry, you don't need to have accounting expertise. The program is driven by a computer algorithm that does all of the calculations and processes information in a simple, step-by-step process. Your primary role is to work with the individuals and input data! 
Speaking of data, if you need help managing your community development data, check out Kadince. Kadince software streamlines the collection, management, and reporting of community involvement data so that you can focus on more important activities. Schedule a demo today so you can streamline your community development efforts.
If you want to take an even deeper dive into core CRA concepts and convene with your fellow CRA colleagues, consider joining the CRA Hub

None of Kadince, Inc., its affiliates, or its respective employees, directors, officers, and agents (collectively, “Kadince”) are responsible or liable for any content or information incorporated herein. Read full disclosure.

Linda Ezuka | Owner, CRA Today

With over 29 years of community development experience, with an emphasis in CRA, compliance, training, community development lending, and CDFI initiatives, Linda works with financial institutions to provide comprehensive CRA training, up-to-date resources, and proven strategies to remain compliant. She helps CRA professionals master the art of the CRA and transform communities through the power of economic development. To learn more about Linda & CRA Today, visit her website.

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