For over 17 years, the Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC) has offered free tax preparation assistance for low-income residents by IRS-certified volunteers through VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. This past year BCOC volunteers completed 1,157 tax returns, which saved residents $2,727,000 in refunds, tax credits and fees – money that stays in the local economy. Since 2004, that has brought the total Bucks County savings to more than $30 million.
Millions of dollars in tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), go unclaimed each year because taxpayers may not know if they qualify, or cannot afford professional tax assistance, according to the IRS. VITA is sponsored by the IRS, and supported locally by Bucks County Foundation, First National Bank & Trust Co. of Newtown, and BB&T, now Truist.
BCOC volunteers prepare taxes for Bucks County residents with a combined income of $57,000 from February 1st through the end of the tax season, usually April 15th, and at scheduled times during the year. VITA/TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) services are not only free, they are also a reliable and trusted source for preparing tax returns. All VITA volunteers who prepare returns, must take and pass tax law training that meets or exceeds IRS standards. This training includes maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all taxpayer information.
In addition to requiring volunteers to certify their knowledge of the tax laws, the IRS requires a quality review check for every return prepared at a VITA/TCE site prior to filing. Each filing season, tens of thousands of dedicated VITA/TCE volunteers prepare millions of federal, and state returns across the country.
BCOC is seeking volunteers to complete tax returns, or to lend administrative to support to sites throughout Bucks County- Bristol, Warminster, Newtown and Quakertown. In addition, they have an opening for a Site Coordinator position in Warminster, for which as stipend is available. Virtual training classes, and online certification is offered. Tax preparation sites adhere to safety and confidentiality protocols, and accommodations for COVID-19 are in place at each site. Visit www.bcoc.org for information.
As the lead anti-poverty, 501(c)(3) non-profit agency in Bucks County, the mission of BCOC is to reduce poverty, and partner with our community to promote economic self-sufficiency. For over 50 years, the Opportunity Council has served low-income families in Bucks County by helping them to stabilize when in crisis, garner resources to achieve a livable wage, gain additional education and training, and work towards economic self-sufficiency.