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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-In a Letter to Federal Credit Unions, NCUA encouraged credit unions to consider whether hosting an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site is right for their credit union. VITA offers free tax preparation and electronic filing and serves to increase awareness of a taxpayer’s eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income workers. The Government Accounting Office has estimated that up to 25% of eligible working families do not claim the credit. Credit union members will be informed of the benefits of using their refund check to take advantage of credit union products and services. “This program can help to facilitate credit unions in their efforts to provide low or no cost savings accounts and financial literacy training to new and existing members,” NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar wrote. Hosting a site could increase credit union membership; increase goodwill through member benefits and outreach; offers Continuing Professional Education credit for volunteers with VITA training; and creates educated members who are better prepared to manage accounts. Interested institutions need to determine if the site could be in the credit union office or at an alternate location, and should contact federal and local organizations and the local IRS office prior to December. The IRS provides free software and training for the VITA volunteers in December so the site can function in early January 2003.

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