January 11, 2008

North County Agency Needs Volunteers

Volunteers make low-income tax program possible

Interfaith Community Services, a non-profit social service agency in North County, is gearing up for its fifth season providing tax filing assistance to low-income working families in San Diego. But with the program starting in just two weeks, Interfaith needs more volunteers to make the program successful for 2008.

“Our program, which operates in Escondido, is run entirely by volunteers,” explains Laura te Velde, Interfaith’s Director of Social Services. “Without volunteers, local families wouldn’t have a free service to access these earned tax credits.”

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program is a free San Diego County sponsored program for eligible families earning less than $38,348 with at least one child. In 2007, Interfaith’s volunteers assisted more than 500 low-income families in filing their federal tax returns, returning more than $800,000 back into the community.

Tax refunds are incredibly helpful for families who are already have a difficult time keeping up with the cost-of-living, explains te Velde. Often, these refunds help sustain a family all year-round by helping to save money or pay for housing, education, or transportation.

Each tax season, the IRS estimates that there are still millions of dollars in tax credits for which many more families are eligible, but go unclaimed. In San Diego County, nearly $25 million of EITC dollars are left unclaimed; compared to more than $1 billion statewide.

“Filing taxes can be difficult,” te Velde explains, “especially when families aren’t aware of the eligibility of tax credits.”

In order for Interfaith to help families receive the refund which they have earned, Interfaith is desperately seeking volunteers to fill positions for day, evening, and weekend hours. The tax program begins in mid-January and will continue throughout the tax season; volunteers are needed to fill positions, including receptionists, tax assistants, Spanish interpreters, tax preparers, and appointment schedulers.

Seasoned tax professional and adults with little tax knowledge are all welcome to volunteer, as online training as well as one-on-one training is available. “We just ask that each volunteer be able to devote a minimum of four hours a week to the program,” added te Velde.

To learn more about Interfaith’s participation in the County of San Diego’s EITC program or to volunteer, please contact Interfaith’s Director of Social Services, Laura te Velde at (760) 489-6380 ext. 229.

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