HUGE NEWS: Thanks to You, VITA Is About to Become Law!
Wow—it’s finally happened. With one final step, the president’s signature, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will become law! As a result of the tireless work of our Taxpayer Opportunity Network (TON) partners and our VITA champions on the Hill, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL-7) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2), last week the Senate passed the Taxpayer First Act, which includes the VITA Permanence Act language. This codifies the VITA program and allows up to $30 million in funding.
Under this legislation, the IRS will continue to administer the program, including providing support, training resources and certification to VITA volunteers, ensuring that VITA grant recipients continue to maintain strong records of accuracy. After fifty years in practice and over ten years of federal funding, millions of working-class families will be able to count on having access to free and high-quality tax preparers.
VITA supports hard-working Americans, including those with limited means, disabilities and limited English proficiency, by providing assistance to accurately complete their taxes. In 2019, tens of thousands of IRS-certified volunteers working at more than 3,700 VITA sites across the country prepared over 1.5 million tax returns, all while achieving a 98% accuracy rate—the highest in the tax preparation industry. These sites generated over $1.8 billion in refunds to households generally earning less than $54,000 in annual income.
So, what comes next? Despite VITA being put into law, we must continue to advocate and ask for funding every year. The program has successfully maximized its current appropriation of $18 million. Increasing federal funding to $30 million annually would help VITA programs increase capacity and extend free tax preparation services to hundreds of thousands of more low-income households. Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and continued funding and service constraints at the IRS, VITA plays an ever-growing key role in helping low-income tax filers successfully navigate tax season and access the refunds they depend on to improve their household's financial well-being.
Let’s celebrate VITA permanence by taking VITA one step further. Please take a moment to call your member of Congress and ask them to fund VITA at $30 million in fiscal year 2020. With your continued support and advocacy, we can take VITA from $18 million to $30 million in its 50th year!
Want to learn more about this historic moment? Check out our press release.