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Montana CUs declare VITA sites a success
HELENA, Mont. (5/11/10)--During this past tax season, nearly 3,000 Montana taxpayers took their W-2s and receipts to credit union Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in Montana to take advantage of free tax-preparation and e-filing services.
Mary Buck (left), a first-year volunteer with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, works with Joe Corbitt, a nine-year volunteer at a VITA site sponsored by credit unions in Butte, Mont. (Photo provided by the Montana Credit Union Network)
For the fifth year, Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD) has partnered with credit unions, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and local volunteer tax preparers to bring IRS VITA sites to Montana communities. “It’s such a good program,” said Bertie Turville, who has served five years as a volunteer tax preparer in Fairfield, Mont. “And people are so happy with it, to not have to go somewhere else and pay money.” Twenty credit unions sponsored 17 VITA sites. This season, they filed 2,620 returns, returning more than $2.5 million in federal refunds back to the communities. Also, credit union sites dispensed more than $407,000 in state refunds. MCUCD began supporting credit union tax sites in 2006, with two VITA sites completing just 92 returns. Sponsor credit unions provide space, supplies, equipment and management for the VITA program. MCUCD provides financial support and technical assistance for the volunteers and credit unions. But local volunteers and credit unions are key to the program’s success. “This is my first year as a site coordinator,” said Jessica Helm, site coordinator for the Rimrock CU site in Billings. “The feeling of helping someone in need and seeing their reaction is more than enough to understand how important this service is. I believe this made a difference in many people’s lives.” Lincoln County CU, Libby, Mont., has made VITA a credit union and community affair. Amy Bennett, site coordinator, recruited four volunteer tax preparers in its first year. The credit union dedicated a large office for the program. “It’s great. The credit union has gone out of its way to provide for us,” said volunteer tax preparer Charlie Lawrence. VITA sites can’t serve everyone, said the Montana Credit Union Network. The IRS certified volunteers are trained to do uncomplicated returns for people who earn $49,000 or less. For clients served in Montana’s credit union sites, the average adjusted gross income was $16,900. The Montana credit union VITA program received financial support from the IRS, the National Credit Union Administration and the National Credit Union Foundation for the 2009 tax season. Montana Credit Unions for Community Development is the charitable arm of the Montana Credit Union Network.
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