ALEXANDRIA, Va.-NCUA has partnered with the Internal Revenue Service to provide grants to low-income credit unions participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program 2003-2004. NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar said the agreement, under the auspices of the agency's Access Across America program, was aimed at encouraging credit unions to consider the program and provide broader services to their members through education and tax assistance. The IRS also uses VITA to increase awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit, asset-building opportunities, and financial education services. Dollar encouraged all low-income designated credit unions involved in or considering participating in VITA to explore this funding opportunity, which would help offset some of the administrative and operation costs. "The credit union interest in this program is growing as over 50 credit unions have already established a VITA partnership with the IRS as part of our Access Across America initiative," Dollar said. "We are pleased to hear that over 150 more credit unions are in the planning stages for developing a program in conjunction with the IRS. NCUA encourages all credit unions and, in particular, those that have a low-income designation, to evaluate the opportunities available to provide valuable financial and tax literacy services to their members through VITA or another comparable program." Credit unions may also realize growth in low or no cost savings accounts and expanded financial literacy training to new and existing members as a result of their participation in VITA. Information packets are currently being mailed to all low-income designated credit unions. -

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