NEW YORK (1/28/09)--A coalition of community development credit unions (CDCUs) will offer Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites funded by a grant from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help low-income consumers file their tax returns. The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions VITA Coalition was the only credit union-exclusive group to receive funds from the IRS. The coalition plans to file 5,000 returns this year. Nine credit unions--including Ka’u FCU, Na’alehu, Hawaii--are hosting VITA sites for the first time. Ka’u FCU is launching mobile VITA sites to help senior citizens and others with limited mobility receive their tax rebates. “Many people don’t realize the extent of poverty that exists in Hawaii. We have many people in our area who don’t know that they can file taxes and receive tax credits, particularly those in senior homes,” said Ka’u manager Bernard Balsis. NRS Community Development CU, Birmingham, Ala., also is hosting a site. “It’s important for low-income earners not to use predatory tax preparers,” said Eunice Rogers, NRS Community CEO. “We want them to take home every penny they have worked so hard for throughout the year.” Other credit unions participating in the coalition are:
* Alternatives FCU, Ithaca, N.Y.; * ASI FCU, Harahan, La.; * Border FCU, Del Rio, Texas; * Communicating Arts CU, Detroit; * District Government Employees FCU, Washington, D.C.; * El Futuro CU, Porterville, Calif.; * Family FCU, Wilmington, Calif; * Halifax County Community FCU, South Boston, Va.; * OUR FCU, Eugene, Ore.; * Santa Cruz (Calif.) Community CU; * Tongass FCU, Ketchikan, Alaska; * Triumph Baptist FCU, Philadelphia; * Winthrop (Mass.) CU; and * Women’s Southwest FCU, Dallas.
“Credit unions have a special advantage as VITA sites,” said Cliff Rosenthal, federation president/CEO. “A community member looking for free tax preparation may find that the credit union also can serve many of their financial needs, with checking and savings accounts, low-cost refund anticipation loans and financial literacy education.” The federation provides financial services to low-income urban and rural communities and represents more than 230 CDCUs nationwide.