Would Your Members Like FREE Tax Assistance?
by DakCU Communications
1/6/2021

Jeff Olson, DakCU President/CEO and the DakCU communications team recently participated in a conference call at the invitation of Sabrina Barton, Senior Stakeholder Relationship Tax Consultant with the IRS. Sabrina invited us to learn more about how credit unions can participate with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the Volunteer Income Taxpayer Assistance (VITA) program.

 

Sabrina is reaching out to credit unions as she herself is a member. With the difficult circumstances that so many consumers have faced over the past year, she sees credit unions as a natural fit to promote and support this program that has the potential to help many members over the next several months.

 

The VITA mission is to reach working families through local businesses, including credit unions, to assist them in satisfying their tax responsibilities by providing free tax preparation, tax education and encouraging financial responsibility. Through free volunteer return preparation programs, organizations (like credit unions) help more than 3 million people file their taxes each year. Further, the IRS estimates that 90 million additional taxpayers would seek free tax help if it were readily available. We can accomplish this by partnering with the IRS to provide brand name software to file taxes for free.

 

Here is a brief preview of what is available. There are two programs for participating member credit unions to choose from:  Facilitated Self Assistance (FSA); and My Free Taxes (MFT).

 

Highlights of the FSA model include:

  • Interview based self-preparation tax software from a brand name software.
  • Participants prepare and e-file their federal tax return for free using a special link, provided by IRS, that can be given either to participants through email or placed on your credit union members and/or employee’s intranet site;
  • No restrictions for participants on income or complexity of tax returns.
  • If questions arise during the self-tax preparation process, your members will have an IRS-certified volunteer, representing your organization, that will be able to answer questions within scope of VITA.  Your volunteer(s) will choose how your participants will contact them (i.e. phone, web chat, emails etc.) answers must be given within 24 to 48 hours of receipt.
  • Your volunteer(s) will not have access to anyone’s income tax information.
  • Link can be given to any employees and clients of the company, regardless of income.

Internal Revenue Service will provide:

  • Link to training for your volunteer.
  • Relationship Tax Consultant to offer one-on-one support to your organization.
  • Link for free filing of taxes.

Your credit union will provide:

  • At least one volunteer to answer tax law questions from your clients; this can be more than one volunteer and does not necessarily have to be an employee.
  • A guarantee from your company that this link will not be placed on a public forward-facing website.

Highlights of MFT model:

  • Link to My Free Taxes provided to your organization.
  • Interview based self-preparation tax program from United Way through H&R Block to provide filing of simple tax returns.
  • With the link provided, participants can access the program from their computer or smartphone, and can file simple (no Schedule C, D, E, or F) federal return for free.
  • My Free Taxes volunteers will answer questions from participants.
  • Link can be placed on social media accounts, your website, and/or credit union’s intranet site.
  • IRS Relationship Tax Consultant to offer one-on-one support to your credit union.
  • Link can be used by clients, employees, and anyone else that visits your site that meet the income criteria established by MFT.  

If you would like to learn more about providing this FREE service to your members, please contact Sabrina Barton or visit the Partner and Volunteer Resource Center to find out more.

 

 

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