In 1969 the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program began operation providing free, high quality tax preparation for low to moderate income taxpayers. Currently, VITA is a matching grant program powered by IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers.
On Thursday, June 13, 2019 Congress passed a bill that will make the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program permanent. The bill, H.R. 3151 – The Taxpayer First Act, will now head to the President to be signed into law. On June 13th, over 60 United Way advocates visited Capitol Hill to advocate for key tax priorities including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers not raising kids at home and young people ages 21 to 24. VITA started 50 years ago, and since 2008 it has been classified as a demonstration pilot program – requiring an authorization from Congress every year. Now, the program will be permanently authorized.
The Campaign for Working Families was selected by Prosperity Now to participate in a pilot program aimed at Tax Time Savings. Prosperity Now (formerly CFED, Center for Economic Development) believes that everyone deserves a chance to prosper. Since 1979 they have helped make it possible for millions of people, especially people of color and those of limited incomes, to achieve financial security, stability and ultimately prosperity. Prosperity Now offers a unique combination of scalable practical solutions, in-depth research and proven policy solutions, all aimed at building wealth for those who need it most.
September 9-11 2019, I participated as a panelist at the Tax Time Financial Capability Research Symposium in Denver, Colorado, which provided an opportunity for participants to hear preliminary findings from a tax time savings project sponsored by the Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation and conducted in partnership between Prosperity Now’s Taxpayer Opportunity Network, Washington University’s Social Policy Institute and EARN’s SaverLife program during and after the 2019 filing season. The goal of the project was to gain a better understanding of the most effective savings interventions that can improve the financial well-being of Low-to-Moderate Income filers across three platforms (VITA, EARN’s SaverLife program, and Refund to Savings).
As a whole is it is well documented that our Low-to-Moderate Income earners do not have $400.00 in savings or in their regular budget to handle an emergency should one should arise. Therefore, saving during tax time is a start and could ultimately be a means of a beginning to a savings opportunity for most.
Shelia D. Jackson
Campaign for Working Families