Submitted by: JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Posted: Jan 09, 2014 – 04:34 PM EST
CHICAGO, Jan. 09 /CSRwire/ - The National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC), in partnership with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, is launching the Virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) pilot program, a new program that uses technology to connect low- and-moderate-income taxpayers with critical tax preparation services free of charge. Over 50 million taxpayers who qualified for VITA were not served in 2013 due to remote location, capacity gaps and other factors.
Virtual VITA will enable underserved taxpayers to access VITA tax preparation services where they otherwise might not be readily available. The program utilizes upgraded technology, like cloud-based servers and video chat, to provide high-quality assistance to clients wherever they are – without requiring clients to be present with the preparer and wait hours at a traditional VITA site. For example, a taxpayer could drop off their tax documents with an intake specialist at a convenient community location. The documents would be sent to certified volunteer preparers and quality reviewers who can complete the tax returns remotely. After they have prepared the returns, the taxpayer would make an appointment when it works best for their schedule to finalize the process. This allows more flexibility for both taxpayers and volunteer preparers, helping to reach more low- and moderate-income taxpayers, more efficiently. In addition to providing funding for this pilot program, JPMorgan Chase employees will receive training and volunteer their time to prepare returns.
“Our program members are eager to try new tax preparation methods in order to make their services more efficient and that allows them to serve more taxpayers,” said NCTC President and CEO Jackie Lynn Coleman. “This initiative will demonstrate that by using technology, more VITA clients across the country can be served.”
“Every year, millions of hard-working families miss out on tax refunds that could help them build their savings and assets. Inconvenient locations, limited hours or language barriers keep many from accessing free or low-cost tax preparation services intended to serve these very families. That’s why we are excited to partner with NCTC on this innovative model to leverage technology to better connect certified tax prep volunteers with people in need.” said Janis Bowdler, Senior Program Director for Financial Capability and Affordable Housing, JPMorgan Chase. “We hope this demonstration project sheds light on ways to maximize the limited resources available for free or low-cost tax preparation and serve the greatest number of people possible.”
Tucson, Arizona and Lansing, Michigan have been chosen as the pilot program locations. The United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona (UWTSA) and the Asset Independence Coalition (AIC) will administer the program. UWTSA facilitates and leads the VITA Task Force of Arizona, a collaborative which operates VITA in nine of Arizona’s fifteen counties and is the single largest tax preparer in the state. During the 2013 tax season, the VITA Task Force of Arizona recruited more than 400 volunteers, who prepared 11,603 tax returns. In 2014, thirteen UWTSA-operated VITA sites will offer Virtual VITA in order to shorten wait times and ensure that no eligible client has to be turned away unserved due to potential limitations of time and volunteer availability.
AIC served 2,914 households in the last tax season, generating over $3.2 million in refunds through the VITA program. The coalition also provided free financial counseling and worked to bank the unbanked. AIC will provide Virtual VITA services at three rural colleges in Michigan communities that either do not have a VITA program or lack the capacity to penetrate remote rural areas.
Contact Information for Taxpayers:
United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona (UWTSA)
Asset Independence Coalition (AIC)
About National Community Tax Coalition
The National Community Tax Coalition is the nation's largest, most comprehensive membership organization for community-based organizations offering free tax and financial services to low-income working families. The coalition’s network of more than 2,800 members, across the country, is dedicated to strengthening economies, building communities, and improving lives through tax assistance and asset building activities that produce financial security, protect families, and promote economic justice.
About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.
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