United Way seeking volunteers for VITA program

BOYNTON BEACH — United Way of Palm Beach County and the Internal Revenue Service  are looking for volunteers to work at United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance  sites during the 2010 tax season. VITA sites are located throughout the county and offer free tax-preparation for those who earn $49,000 or less a year.

Volunteers are needed to work at 20 VITA sites from Boca Raton to Jupiter and west to Belle Glade. VITA volunteers include certified public accountants, retirees, housewives, college students and professionals. Also needed are volunteers who are bilingual in Spanish or Creole. Volunteers who are age 16 or older may serve as greeters and earn community service hours.

Free volunteer training is provided by United Way, and all volunteers are certified by the IRS to file returns using the VITA Program. In exchange, volunteers are asked to commit to working a minimum of four hours per week at a VITA site during the filing season January 19 - April 15, 2010. CPAs are not required to undergo the IRS training, but must pass the IRS certification test.

“The VITA Program has been very successful and has had an economic impact of more than $112 million in Palm Beach County. The program is successful because of the volunteers who undergo training and give of their time to help thousands of local residents file their income tax returns for free,” said Chuck Anderson, president and CEO, United Way of Palm Beach County. “We appreciate our returning VITA volunteers, and welcome new volunteers to the United Way family.”

 If you would like to become a volunteer, contact Bonnie Seely Roberts, United Way of Palm Beach County, at (561) 375-6683, or visit United Way of Palm Beach County’s Web site at www.unitedwaypbc.org and click on the “Taxes Done Free” button in the image section on the home page. The link connects you to the training schedule and allows you to register as a volunteer.

The VITA Program is one component of United Way’s Prosperity Campaign, aimed at helping working individuals and families gain financial stability. This is the seventh year United Way has offered the free tax service to Palm Beach County residents. The VITA Program helps tax payers save over $1 million in tax-preparation fees they would have paid had they used a tax-preparation company. Additionally, research shows that taxpayers receiving refunds through returns processed at VITA sites, used their refunds for many purposes such as paying off debt, investing in education or housing, or opening a bank account. This is new money for the local economy.

Last year, more than 9,500 residents used the VITA Program, and received $15 million in refunds, including $5.6 million in Earned Income Tax Credits. Before United Way’s involvement in the VITA Program, only 641 residents were using the service.

Other partners in the VITA Program include Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners and 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast.

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