Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Niagara and the Niagara County Financial Literacy Coalition are seeking volunteers for a few hours per week during February and March 2020 to help with their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. And although volunteers are not needed until winter, to ensure the success of the program, we need potential volunteers to register by Oct. 10.

Specifically, volunteers will help low-income Niagara County residents maximize their tax returns by avoiding refund anticipation loans and inflated filing fees. Volunteers will receive free training; accreditation; help people begin to build financial assets; and be part of a program that helps thousands of households every year.

Volunteering for VITA provides tangible benefits. Organizers list five reasons to become a VITA volunteer:

Flexible hours — Volunteers generally serve an average of three to five hours per week. The program is usually open from mid-January through the tax filing deadline in April.

Certification and work experience provided — This volunteer experience is perfect to add to any resume. It is well recognized and well regarded. The work experience could lead to a job in this field.

No prior experience needed — You’ll receive specialized training and can serve in a variety of roles. If you are fluent in another language, you may be able to help those who speak that language.

Free tax law training and materials — Learn how to prepare basic tax returns and learn about all the tax deductions and credits that benefit eligible taxpayers.

Continuing education credits for tax pros — Enrolled agents and non-credentialed tax return preparers can earn credits when volunteering as a VITA instructor, quality reviewer or tax return preparer. See the IRS fact sheet for more information on Continuing Education Credits.

Recent research conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service has shown that volunteers have 27% higher odds of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers, this effect may be due to developing new skills and expanding personal networks. This likelihood increases for rural volunteers (55%) and volunteers without a high school diploma (51%).

To become a volunteer, contact Noelle Carter at noelle.carter@cccsbuffalo.org. Tax preparation training is free and will be held in December 2019. For more information on VITA programming, the Coalition and CCCS —or to get involved—contact Noelle Carter.

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