The National Community Tax Coalition recently recognized Montana Credit Unions for Community Development for its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, naming MCUCD as its most innovative affiliate.
A statewide non-profit organization based in Helena, MCUCD works with Montana’s credit unions to improve the lives and financial independence of all Montanans. The VITA program is a key component in that effort. The IRS VITA Program provides free tax preparation to low-income people who cannot prepare their own through the use of trained and certified volunteers.
Since 2006, MCUCD has assisted 24 Montana credit unions sponsor VITA sites in their shops, offering free tax preparation services in 21 communities. Most of these credit unions are in rural Montana where no other free, on-site tax preparation is available for area residents. Volunteers at Montana’s credit unions have filed 7,795 returns for low-income Montanans, helping them claim over $6.4 million in federal tax refunds.
MCUCD won the award for its innovative model of providing VITA sites in rural credit unions. “In a state as large and rural as Montana, we have to be creative in order to keep our credit unions and volunteers engaged and supported,” Jeanne Saarinen, Executive Director at MCUCD says.
Creative problem solving is precisely what earned MCUCD the first-ever Affiliate Innovation Award given by the National Community Tax Coalition. The innovation MCUCD implemented is a unique way of interacting with volunteers to ensure tax returns are prepared accurately and volunteers preparing those returns have the support they need when preparing those tax returns.
NCTC is a national membership organization for organizations offering free tax and financial services to low-income working families. The award recognizes extraordinary innovation in the community tax preparation field.
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