Wages in many rural communities are lower than in larger cities, making it more likely that workers may qualify for the EITC. Since services are less accessible than in urban areas – from social services and libraries to free and commercial tax preparers – information about the tax credits and places to go for tax help may be less available. Outreach efforts are needed to reach isolated communities.
- County commissioners and town councils
- Local businesses, employers, and churches
- Small business owners
- Cooperative Extension Service
1. Get involved with the community.
Rural communities tend to be close-knit, so identify trusted leaders and institutions to partner with. Conduct tax credit outreach at community events. Local sports games, festivals, church events, back-to-school nights, PTA meetings, and regional conferences offer opportunities to reach many eligible workers at once.
2. Use technology.
A volunteer-staffed van or individual staff members can become a mobile VITA site and prepare tax returns on laptops at pre-arranged locations, clients’ homes, or work. Partnering with a community college can mean access to student volunteers and laptop computers for electronic filing. IRS offices may also loan computers to VITA sites. If traveling is difficult, videoconferences or webcasts can be used to conduct meetings, trainings, or to file tax returns. In addition, IRS’ Virtual VITA allows organizations to partner with a VITA site in another location to file tax returns using technology. Contact your IRS Territory Manager to learn more about requirements and opportunities.
3. Enlist local employers to help with outreach.
Small business owners can promote tax credits to their employees or volunteer to host a free tax site during non-business hours. Larger businesses like factories and farms can promote the tax credits as well. Rural areas with tourist attractions — such as bed and breakfasts, gift shops and restaurants — may employ workers who qualify for the EITC and CTC.
4. Promote tax credits through schools.
Schools can be an important channel for tax credit information and may also serve as central location for VITA sites. Community colleges and universities provide an important avenue to reach out to some working parents and lower-income students not raising children.
Contact statewide groups that may have connections in rural areas such as:
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