Just Harvest needs you to volunteer this coming tax season: January through mid-April!
You may not know this, but tax season is amazing.
Every year – thanks to many, many dedicated volunteers, like Vaughn in the above video – we help a few thousand low-income families access several million dollars in tax credits. The number of people we help keeps going up every year because every year we have more volunteers!
But wait, why taxes?
Very often when I meet with a new volunteer who is just learning about Just Harvest, I start to talk about taxes and a look of confusion comes across their face: What in the world do taxes have to do with hunger and poverty?
The answer is simple: the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and Child Tax Credits (CTC) do more to lift working families out of poverty than any other program in the country. This critical safety net measure lifts over 10.6 million Americans out of poverty in 2018, about half of whom were children. It reduced poverty for nearly 24 million Americans, 6.4 million of whom were children.
For many of the people we serve, their EITC will provide more than 40% of their annual income. It’s just not fair that they should have to pay a private tax prep company about $180 every year to access a public benefit that could lift them out of poverty. Worse, those who receive for-profit tax assistance are often encouraged to make poor financial decisions like getting their refund right away – in the form of a hefty high-cost short-term loan.
Besides reducing poverty, the EITC has some other really awesome impacts, as proven by research:
- People eat better when they access the EITC.
- Women in low-wage jobs who access the EITC have healthier babies.
- Children who benefit from the EITC have better school performance, and into adulthood have higher earnings.
What is our impact?
During the 2019 tax season, we engaged 480 volunteers in preparing over 10,400 tax returns, delivering $16.1 million in refunds back to Southwestern PA residents. COVID-19 is hurting our community’s most vulnerable populations. As unemployment numbers and COVID cases increase so does the need for Free Tax support. Volunteers connecting low-income households to their full tax refund make a huge difference in our community.
Volunteering will be rewarding and fun …
- Tax experience is not necessary but is appreciated!
- Volunteers choose their tax sites and schedules.
- IRS Tax Certification and training are provided.
- Volunteers work with taxpayers from all over Pittsburgh.
- Education Credits and internships are available.
- Staff are available to answer questions and provide support.
Our priority during this pandemic is the health and well-being of our clients and our volunteers.
- We offer both in-person and virtual free tax sites in multiple counties.
- All training will be virtual.
- No volunteers will be required to serve in person!
Tax program volunteer requirements:
- All volunteers must complete the IRS Tax Certification exam and training.
- All new volunteers must have a background check (including returning volunteers who were new during the 2019 or 2020 tax seasons).
- All volunteers must be computer proficient.