RivCo educates locals on tax savings

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Connie George

Riverside County’s Community Action Partnership (CAP) is seeking to educate and support local individuals and families through a program promoting special tax credits that could put more money back in taxpayers’ pockets, benefiting the local economy with greater consumer spending.

CAP is accepting applications for volunteers to become IRS-trained and certified in order to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). The volunteers will provide education and tax return preparation assistance during the upcoming tax season at no charge to households with less than $50,000 in annual income.

Volunteer training begins in December, and tax preparation starts at the end of January, concluding in mid-April.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or Disabled are examples of advantages available to qualified taxpayers, but not all such taxpayers may be aware that they are eligible for the credits.

For example, last year alone taxpayers in Riverside County failed to claim more than $87 million in Earned Income Tax Credits for which they were eligible.

“The VITA program is an opportunity to give back,” said Program Manager Kareem Gongora, “and to bring more money back into the communities as well as educate taxpayers” about credits and other tax advantages available to them.

Gongora said 20 to 30 VITA volunteers are being sought for the Coachella Valley, and that each must commit to serving a minimum of 25 hours throughout the tax season. The county now requires all volunteers to be live-scanned for background checks, which can be completed at any sheriff’s office for a $42 fee.

For more information on the VITA program, call (800) 511-1110 or (951) 955-4900, or visit www.capriverside.org. Volunteer applications can be downloaded from the website.