“Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy
We celebrated Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) in Las Vegas … and the numbers are impressive. Almost 200 volunteers spent 12,000 hours generating over $25 million in federal refunds that have and will continue to exponentially benefit our local communities and working families, including thousands of children. But for anyone who has served as a VITA volunteer, the personal rewards and deep fulfillment from helping others are priceless. If you are a tax professional looking for something more out of work-life-balance (or are curious about Woody Allen’s antihero advice and afterlife plan) … read more about encore tax opportunities here. Details about VITA programs and generous grant opportunities with fast-approaching deadlines (June 1) follow the fold …
The VITA program was created in 1969 to provide free federal income tax filing assistance to underserved communities. Congress first appropriated funds in 2007 to establish a matching grant program and continues to fund this grant through annual appropriations. Thanks to compelling results and need, Congress recently increased (thanks to the NTA’s and others’ focus on the matter) its appropriation for VITA grants from $12 million to $15 million.
Now that the tax season initial filing deadline has come and gone VITA sites across the country are tally up the 2015 tax assistance numbers. Since 2003, there has been a 280 percent increase in taxpayers served with VITA and TCE programs helping tens of millions of households. For 2014, the IRS estimates that nearly 96,000 IRS-certified volunteers prepared 3.6 million returns at 12,000 tax sites across the U.S. VITA/TCE programs prepared nearly 734,000 EITC returns and filed more than 409,000 CTC returns while helping filers claim more than $82 million in educational tax credits. Using $18.1 million in annual federal funding, VITA/TCE generated over $3.9 billion in tax refunds. This return represents one of the most effective of any government program.
Beginning this year the IRS will be considering grant applicants for return preparation activities covering two filing seasons instead of one. The VITA grant covers 24 months beginning August 1 and ending July 31. Applications may be downloaded from Grants.gov here, but must be completed and submitted on or before June 1, 2016.