BEND, Ore. -

Are you looking to learn a new skill while helping those in your community? The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA, is looking for volunteers to help prepare tax returns in Bend, Redmond and Prineville for the 2014 tax season.

VITA sites provide free income tax preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers (generally those who make less than $47,000 per year) who need help filing their returns. The average AGI of taxpayers for the 2013 season was $20,039.

“These are people who can really use the help with making sure they are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and Child Tax Credits (CTC) that they are entitled to, and that VITA volunteers help them to receive,” said VITA Program Director, Pat McGuinness. There are a variety of locations and time slots for volunteers to choose from. The VITA program’s tax preparation clinics begin Feb 1 and runs through April 15.

Why volunteer? “Volunteering is an opportunity to pay it forward,” said long-time site coordinator and VITA volunteer Jeanne Kosanovic. “Many if not most of our volunteers find spending few hours a week with other volunteers gratifying. People enjoy themselves . . . we laugh, help each other, and share tips, all while offering a valuable service to the community.”

VITA volunteers come from all walks of life and include professionals, retirees, college and high school students, and others who simply want to help taxpayers in their communities. “That helps make the volunteer experience especially interesting,” said McGuinness. “There is also a sense of pride that comes with participation as well as the added bonus of knowing that your new skills can be of value to you outside the VITA Program.”

Volunteer training is available in a number of ways including independent study, classroom instruction, or a combination of both. Classes are tentatively scheduled to run from Tuesday evening, November 4, at 5 p.m. at the Eastside Deschutes County Library through Dec. 17.   For more information contact Pat McGuinness at 541.389.6507 or pat@deschutesunitedway.org. VITA is a program of United Way of Deschutes County.