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Illinois CUs take first steps toward offering VITA
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (10/22/08)--Illinois credit unions are taking steps to provide free income tax filing help--Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA--to individuals of modest means, the Illinois Credit Union League said Monday.
The Center for Economic Progress (CEP) has been a major partner in assisting consumers with filing their tax returns free of charge at many sites throughout Illinois, including credit unions. Ellen Smith, CEP tax site manager (left) helps an individual during a free tax filing day for seniors sponsored recently by North Side Community FCU in Chicago. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
VITA helps those with incomes of about $40,000 or less who cannot prepare their own tax returns. A good opportunity exists for credit unions to build partnerships with existing VITA sites, which are generally open from January to April 15. Credit unions also can provide consumers with alternatives to Refund Anticipation Loans and help them make better financial decisions, the league said. Two credit unions in Illinois have partnered with the Chicago-based Center for Economic Progress, which provides free tax preparation and representation services. South Division CU, Evergreen Park, said the partnership with the center “went great.” “We helped over 40 underserved veterans in just two hours,” said Geri Burek, South Division CEO. The credit union plans to continue helping veterans during the next tax season, Burek said. North Side Community FCU, Chicago, also serves as a host VITA site. The credit union provides service for members on Mondays when the credit union is normally closed, and on Tuesday evenings for community members. “We are always looking for ways to strengthen the relationship with our select employee groups, and VITA is a great way to do it,” said Ed Jacob, North Side CEO.


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