Volunteers needed for upcoming income tax assistance program

In 2012 volunteers from the countywide Volunteer Income Tax Assistance coalition prepared 1,317 state and federal tax returns garnering a total of $2,109,312 in federal and state refunds.

The United Way of Northern Chautauqua County, part of the Chautauqua County VITA Coalition is looking for volunteers from the community to assist with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) program during the upcoming tax season.

The Chautauqua County VITA Coalition works with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide free, basic income tax preparation services to community members with low to moderate incomes.

No experience is necessary. All volunteers receive appropriate training for their involvement in the program. Along with a specific training session in January, volunteers will also receive self-study materials describing basic income tax law for federal and state returns.

Trained volunteer preparers explain credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and help individuals complete and electronically file their tax returns, all for FREE. Refunds can be deposited directly into a bank account within seven to 10 days.

Volunteers are covered under the Volunteer Protection Act and are not accountable for tax returns filed to the IRS.

For those who are interested in helping but are concerned tax preparation is not for them, volunteers are needed for these other positions:

Greeters – Greeters create a welcoming atmosphere at the VITA sites while helping to check in families and individuals accessing VITA services. While tax training is not required for greeters, a positive attitude is critical to being effective in this important role.

Translators – VITA has a substantial need of volunteer translators for clients who speak English as a second language. The greatest need is for translators fluent in Spanish.

Potential volunteers are encourage to contact us through the Volunteer Center website at www.volunteerwny.org.

Once at the Volunteer Center website, to the left, you will see a yellow box titled Find Volunteer Opportunities. In the box, for keyword, type “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and for zip code type “14048,” and click the search button. At the next screen, to the right under Volunteer Opportunity, click on the words Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program associated with United Way of Northern Chautauqua County. Jamestown area residents can choose the link associated with the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County.

The next page gives a description of the volunteer opportunities available for this program. Towards the bottom of this screen, there is a grey box titled Express Interest. This contains the different ways to contact the Opportunity Leader for the program. Volunteers already signed-up with Volunteer Western New York can use the Express Interest button. Otherwise in the Express Interest box, find Patti Fickelscherer, opportunity leader, and click the yellow email button to the right. A screen will then open providing the opportunity to send an email to the opportunity leader.

When composing the email, potential volunteers are advised to remember to include first and last name, contact information, and a brief paragraph of which volunteer position they are interested in.

Contact Patti Fickelscherer at the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County office at 366-5424 or through email using patti@unitedwayncc.org.

Volunteers can help boost a family’s yearly income and have a direct impact on the lives of working families and the communities in which they live.