SHAMOKIN - Central Susquehanna Opportunities (CSO) Inc. will once again sponsor the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a critical anti-poverty initiative of the IRS. It runs from Jan. 20 to April 11 at locations throughout Columbia, Montour, and Northumberland counties.

VITA relies largely upon local volunteers to prepare and file basic federal and state income tax returns for low- to moderate-income individuals and families at no cost. VITA helps working families, seniors and others avoid professional tax preparation fees and refund anticipation loans, and ensures they receive the tax credits for which they are eligible, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Tax Credit and the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled, all at no cost. Volunteers also complete PA Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms.

In 2013, CSO completed 445 returns serving 532 clients. Refunds totaled $ 504,461, which included $179,439 in tax credits.

To be eligible, individuals and families must have earned $50,000 or less in combined income for the year.

Volunteers can train in the comfort of their home via the IRS' Web site. They do not prepare itemized returns.

Appointments are required. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call CSO at 570-644-6575, ext. 171.

CSO is actively seeking volunteers, partnering businesses and program sponsors. To become a volunteer tax preparer, to partner your business with this program or to sponsor this program, contact Tonya Batchelder, VITA coordinator, at 570-428-5689 or tbatchelder@censop.com.