This year, growing numbers of workers will qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) because their income declined or they experienced unemployment. The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for working individuals and families with low-to-moderate incomes. Last year, the program lifted an estimated 6.6 million people out of poverty — including 3.3 million children— making this tax credit one of the largest anti-poverty federal measures in the U.S.
In 2011, hard-working individuals and families are eligible for up to $5,666 in an EITC tax refund. That money can translate into countless opportunities: a mortgage payment, a college class, a doctor’s appointment or a new vehicle — the possibilities are endless.
To help workers claim the EITC and other tax credits, the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to low-to-moderate income working families with the help of trained volunteers. Goodwills across the country are currently training hundreds of volunteers to help members of their community to prepare their taxes this season.
“I really do think it impacts the community, and I like to give back,” explains Paulette Johnson, a VITA volunteer. “Even though I don’t have a lot of money, I like to share my knowledge and time. It is really rewarding when people come in that weren’t expecting to get money back.”
By volunteering as a VITA tax preparer in your community, you can gain free tax training, earn a certification from the IRS and gain applicable skills to advance your career. “We have had several of our VITA volunteers get jobs because of their tax preparation experience here at our site,” says Kirby Kaple, financial services specialist at Goodwill Industries of Southern Rivers (Columbus, GA).
This great volunteer opportunity can help you:
Even if you aren’t interested in tax preparation, VITA sites offer many volunteer positions that can enhance your résumé and help members of your community:
Discover if you or someone you know is eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit.