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The IRS has operated its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for more than 30 years but only recently has sought help from external partners to host and staff facilities. The easiest way for credit unions to get involved in the program is to partner with other community organizations that already have established sites and provide the tax-preparation service. If, however, a credit union seeks to open its own VITA center, here are some helpful recommendations: Don’t go at it alone-Obtain the support of your credit union board of directors and staff; make sure they understand the importance of this effort to the credit union and your field of membership. Keep it simple-Maintain separate hours of operation for the VITA site that don’t overlap with the credit union’s regular hours of operation. Develop a budget-While the IRS provides free tax-preparation software, additional costs may be incurred for installing and testing the software for compatibility with your existing computer system. Don’t forget about paying staff for overtime hours, as well as costs for general operations. Establish quality control procedures-This may include additional training for staff and the hiring of a certified accountant to review documents.

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