By Jordan Blakemore, 2020 Get It Back Campaign Intern
Each year, thousands of IRS certified volunteers offer their time and expertise at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites across the country to help millions of Americans file taxes free of charge. VITA is an IRS-sponsored program staffed by volunteers who are committed to helping millions of low- and moderate-income people file their taxes by providing accurate, free, and trustworthy tax preparation assistance.
Today, as we celebrate VITA Awareness Day and everyone in the VITA family — from site coordinators, tax preparers, intake specialists, and greeters, to host organizations, outreach coalitions, and clients — we also acknowledge the challenges some taxpayers are experiencing due to VITA site closures from COVID-19. Before going to your local VITA site, call to see if they are open or have drop off options. An alternative to going in-person is filing your taxes virtually through IRS Free File.
Volunteers are essential to free tax preparation. Five reasons why VITA volunteers are amazing are that they:
1. Help clients claim valuable tax credits they’ve earned
The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit lift millions of hard working Americans out of poverty each year.
2. Save taxpayers money
Refund anticipation checks and fees for a paid preparer can eat up much of a filer’s tax refund, VITA volunteers are committed to providing quality tax services—free of charge!
The average tax return costs a taxpayer nearly $300— this money can instead buy groceries or help with the rent.
3. Prioritize accurate returns
Unlike paid preparers, who aren’t required to have a license, VITA volunteers are trained extensively and must certify through the IRS annually. In addition, all tax returns are reviewed by at least one other preparer before they’re submitted, which helps maintain accuracy rates higher than 90 percent.
4. Care about taxpayers
Volunteers are patient and willingly explain the tax filing process to help taxpayers understand their tax returns and tax filing responsibilities.
5. Are dedicated to serving the needs of taxpayers
As many VITA sites are forced to close due to safety concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak, volunteers are finding creative ways for people to file taxes such as drop off sites or sending documents electronically.
Thank you to the thousands of VITA volunteers across the country, your hard work does not go unnoticed! From site coordinators to greeters, VITA volunteers help those who need it most keep their hard-earned money.