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Volunteers sought to prepare taxes at free tax prep sites

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Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 03:05 pm

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Niagara, Niagara County Financial Literacy Coalition ask readers to help make a difference in their community

Consumer Credit Counseling Service and the Niagara County Financial Literacy Coalition announced they are seeking 15-20 volunteers to register by Dec. 8 to help prepare taxes at free tax prep sites. Volunteers will undergo training this month and ultimately provide tax preparation services in Niagara County in February and March.

Volunteers are needed in both Niagara Falls and Lockport. They will work between two and four hours per week for an eight-week stretch, with flexibility in determining work times.

No prior experience is necessary and free training is provided. Volunteers will help the community by preparing taxes free of charge for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families.

Many low-income individuals and families use for-profit commercial tax preparers that charge upward of $250 per return. For those individuals who earn minimum wage, that can represent nearly a full week of work. This does not include the cost for the "rapid refund," can be another $200. Low-income filers can easily pay nearly $500.

The goal here has always been to keep that money in the pockets of low-income Niagara County residents.

This is a high-impact volunteer opportunity for civic-minded individuals to assist low-income families in the community. Volunteers will receive a certification to add to their resumes. The work experience could lead to a job in this field.

Retired financial professionals also are excellent candidates to volunteer to assist their neighbors. Current financial professionals are warmly encouraged to donate a few hours per week. However, no prior experience or knowledge is needed; anyone who is interested is encouraged to inquire about the opportunity.

Volunteers will "staff" the Niagara County Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in February and March. VITA volunteers work to ensure Niagara County residents are able to access valuable tax credits, including the earned income tax credit, a critical economic support that allows hardworking low-income families to keep more of what they earn. Volunteers also provide important information to clients about other free programs, such as credit counseling, budget coaching, or ongoing assistance in helping achieve long-lasting financial security.

Through the Consumer Credit Counseling Service and the Niagara County Financial Literacy Coalition VITA program, $627,000 was returned to low income Niagara County taxpayers this year, saving families $117,000 in filing fees and helping them access $62,000 in earned income tax credit.

To become a volunteer, contact Noelle Carter at 716-771-3255 or [email protected]. Tax preparation training is free.

For 50 years, CCCS, a nonprofit, full-service credit-counseling agency, has provided confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and credit repayment assistance to consumers. Visit www.consumercreditbuffalo.org for more information.

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