Federation Members and Partners Host VITA Sites Across America
(January 26, 2009 – New York, NY) The first of sixteen Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites participating in the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions’ (Federation’s) VITA Coalition are now open for business, thanks to a $125,000 grant made to the Federation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Federation was the only national coalition exclusively representing credit unions that was awarded an IRS VITA grant.
VITA is a program of the IRS office of Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC) where participating organizations offer free tax preparation to low- and moderate-income people, helping them access important resources through programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
“The IRS has been a proud partner of the Federation for over six years,” explained Debra J. Chandler, National Credit Union Relationship Manager and Senior Tax Analyst at the IRS Financial Institutions Partnership Office. “We selected the Federation Coalition as a recipient of an inaugural VITA Grant, because of their ongoing commitment to serving low-income and underserved communities across the nation. In addition to hosting free tax preparation sites, we are confident that this funding will enable the Federation’s Coalition to promote financial education, tax education, and asset-building strategies to low-income consumers.”
Through the grant, the Federation is helping credit unions host new and expand existing VITA sites to help low-income individuals and communities across the nation retain their hard-earned tax dollars. Collectively the coalition plans to file over 5,000 tax returns and return millions of dollars to local communities. As part of the grant, the Federation will provide technical assistance and financial support to credit union VITA sites across the nation.
“The Federation is proud to support and promote VITA sites at credit unions across the country,” said Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. “Our member and partner credit unions work hard to provide their communities with access to affordable financial services, and VITA sites help ensure low-income people take advantage of the various tax rebates they are entitled to by law.”
Nine of the credit unions participating in the coalition have never hosted a VITA site previously, and Bernard Balsis, Manager of Ka’u FCU (Na’alehu, HI), a Federation board member, is especially excited to host his first VITA site. “Many people don’t realize the extent of poverty that exists in Hawaii. We have many people in our area who don’t know that they can file taxes and receive tax credits, particularly those in senior homes,” explained Balsis. “This year we are launching mobile VITA sites to help our members with limited mobility to access their much-needed tax rebates.”
“Credit unions have a special advantage as VITA sites,” explained Rosenthal. “A community member looking for free tax preparation may find that their credit union can also serve many of their other financial needs, with checking and savings accounts, low-cost refund anticipation loans, and financial literacy education. VITA offers an opportunity for credit unions to build their membership while supporting their communities.”
Credit unions participating in the Federation’s VITA coalition represent a wide spectrum of the Federation’s CDCU members and Community Development Partners. They are:
|Santa Cruz Community CU Members receive free tax preparation at the CU's VITA site.
Alternatives FCU (Ithaca, NY); ASI FCU (Harahan, LA); Border FCU (Del Rio, TX); Communicating Arts CU (Detroit, MI); District Government Employees FCU (Washington, DC); El Futuro CU (Porterville, CA); Family FCU (Wilmington, CA); Halifax County Community FCU (South Boston, VA); Ka'u FCU (Na’alehu, HI); NRS Community Development FCU (Birmingham, AL); OUR FCU (Eugene, OR); Santa Cruz Community CU (Santa Cruz, CA); Tongass FCU (Ketchikan, AK); Triumph Baptist FCU (Philadelphia, PA); Winthrop FCU (Winthrop, MA); and Women's Southwest FCU (Dallas, TX).
During the 2008 tax season, 37 community development credit union (CDCU) members of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) and 8 Community Development Partner credit unions helped low-income residents keep millions of dollars in their communities. This year, thanks to the Federation’s VITA Coalition and promotion of the VITA program, even more credit unions will be able to host VITA sites.
For more information about the Federation’s VITA Coalition or if you are interested hosting a VITA site in 2010, please contact Dan Apfel, Program Associate at email@example.com , or (800) 437-8711 x220.
© 2009 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.