Community volunteers needed for VITA program

Last year, more than 1,200 people from Western Pennsylvania gave something to their communities and can’t wait to do it again this year. According to the Internal Revenue Service, what they gave was their time. Now the IRS is seeking more volunteers in Western Pennsylvania to give more time.
“The IRS and its partners are looking for volunteers to spend a little time learning about taxes and sharing that knowledge with others to help prepare their federal and state tax returns,” said James Daugherty, Territory Manager from Pittsburgh. “The need is especially great in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, Uniontown, State College, and Washington, PA.
“Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program volunteers prepare simple federal and state tax returns for people whose incomes are $35,000 or less. Anyone can volunteer. If you are interested and want to help, we can find a way to involve you in this program.”
According to Daugherty, many of the taxpayers helped through this program are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a special tax credit for low income working families and individuals. In 2002, the Earned Income Tax Credit averaged $1,582 and brought more than $406 million dollars into Western Pennsylvania.
“Without VITA volunteers, many of these people might have missed out on this important credit,” Daugherty said. “With more volunteers, hundreds or even thousands more taxpayers may get the credit they deserve. We estimate that between $71 and $135 million dollars went unclaimed last year in Western Pennsylvania.”
VITA volunteers provide free tax help in their own community and most sites offer electronic filing of both Federal and Pennsylvania State Tax Returns. IRS e-file is the fastest, easiest way to do taxes. There are fewer errors and taxpayers get their refunds in less than half the time of paper returns.
The IRS provides free training materials to community organizations that sponsor VITA. Training classes are generally held in November, December and January and are held at convenient locations. Volunteers generally spend two to four hours per week from February through April 15 helping people.
Each year, millions of people receive assistance through this program. The Western Pennsylvania Territory covers approximately one-half of the state and consists of 34 counties. Last year, more than 1,200 VITA volunteers in Western Pennsylvania helped more than 29,000 taxpayers.
To volunteer and attend one of the above classes, contact the IRS – VITA/TCE Coordinator by calling 412-395-6569, faxing 412-395-4722, or emailing