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 (who we recently hired as permanent tax staff!) – we help a few thousand low-income families access several million dollars in tax credits.
In 2021, many low-income families who may have never filed a tax return before will need to file to access the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), both of which Congress expanded in the American Rescue Plan Act. We need your help to connect these families to the tax credits they’ve earned.
But wait, why taxes?
Very often when we meet with a new volunteer who is just learning about Just Harvest, we 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 Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) do more to lift working families out of poverty than any other program in the country. This critical safety net measure lifted over 10.6 million Americans completely 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. The newly expanded CTC is projected to cut U.S. child poverty in half.
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, for-profit tax assistance sites often steer their clients toward poor financial decisions, like by promoting instant refunds – 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 2020 tax season – despite the COVID-19 pandemic – 275 volunteers prepared over 6,000 tax returns, delivering $10.7 million in refunds back to Southwestern PA residents. Volunteers connecting low-income households to their full tax refund make a huge difference in our communities.
Volunteering will be rewarding and fun …
- Tax experience is not necessary but is appreciated!
- Volunteers choose their tax sites and schedules.
- We provide IRS Tax Certification and training.
- 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.
- Just Harvest tax sites require all in-person staff and volunteers to be vaccinated.
- We offer both in-person and virtual free tax sites in multiple counties.
- You can complete training virtually, though we’ve also planned limited in-person options.
Tax program volunteer requirements:
- All volunteers must complete the IRS Tax Certification exam and training.
- All new volunteers must have a background check.
- All volunteers must be computer proficient.