Southern Bancorp kicks off its 10th year of offering free tax filing services for income eligible individuals and families in Arkansas and Mississippi on Tuesday, January 21st.  The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program features trained, IRS-certified volunteers who guide taxpayers through the filing process and help them identify potential credits and deductions. The program is administered by Southern Bancorp’s non-profit affiliate, Southern Bancorp Community Partners (SBCP).

“The VITA program has been a huge success for income-eligible families,” said Karama Neal, SBCP Director. “Since the program’s inception, we’ve filed more than 10,000 returns, resulting in over $20 million in refunds and credits, including over $10 million from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This is money going back into taxpayer hands where it can support families and local economies, primarily in the most distressed communities in Arkansas and Mississippi.”

Southern Bancorp’s VITA program volunteers primarily include Southern Bancorp bank employees who have received extensive, IRS-approved training in order to complete the returns and file for credits.  Last year alone, these volunteers donated 2,617 hours of service to help their communities and fellow residents.  In 2014, the program has expanded to 12 sites in both Arkansas and Mississippi. For a complete list of Southern’s VITA locations, as well as income-eligibility information, please visit www.BankSouthern.com/VITA.

To learn more about the IRS VITA program and find additional VITA sites and providers outside of Southern’s locations, please visit http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers.

Southern Bancorp is one of America’s largest rural development banks, serving over 80,000 customers at 39 branches in both Arkansas and Mississippi. Southern invests in people and businesses in rural communities; empowers them to improve their lives; and helps them transform their communities. On the web at BankSouthern.com and SouthernPartners.org.

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