Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Data Show 3.2 Million Americans Benefit from Volunteer Tax Preparation

New Data Show Volunteer Tax Preparation Provides a Significant Benefit to Lower-Income Taxpayers

Nearly $4 billion in refunds reached every state in the US

This morning, the Taxpayer Opportunity Network released its new breakdown of national IRS data on the 2014 tax season, which shows that volunteers helped over 3.2 million taxpayers get $3.89 billion in tax refunds. The data reveal that the economic impact of volunteer tax assistance benefits residents of every state in the country, helping them achieve their financial goals and boosting local economic activity.
CFED and the Taxpayer Opportunity Network find that millions of Americans receive an economic boost from tax credits generated by Volunteer Tax Assistance, including $1.1 billion in Earned Income Tax Credits, $900 million in Child and Additional Child Tax Credits, and $82 million in Education Credits. Furthermore, since filing an accurate tax return is critical to obtaining mortgages, small business loans, college financial aid and even citizenship, the efforts of volunteers help millions have access to the financial mainstream.
Demand for community-based volunteer assistance is rising, in part because IRS customer service has been dramatically reduced to absorb about $1.9 billion in cuts to the Service’s annual budget since 2010. As indicated in the National Taxpayer Advocate’s report to Congress, these volunteer programs need significantly more funding to help fill the gap created by IRS budget cuts, as the IRS estimates 19 million taxpayers would use volunteer tax assistance if it were readily available.
Facts about Volunteer Tax Assistance:
  • The vast majority of volunteer tax preparers participate in the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. They must pass IRS certification tests annually to demonstrate their competency.
  • VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations across the country. Find a VITA location near you.
  • Currently, an estimated 96,000 IRS-certified volunteers are helping over three million taxpayers across the country file their taxes and get their refunds.
This is the first time the Taxpayer Opportunity Network and CFED have used IRS data to understand the power of volunteer tax preparation. The Taxpayer Opportunity Network aims to help Americans save and build wealth, stay out of poverty, and create a more prosperous future through tax policy and community-based tax assistance.
Access the full volunteer tax preparation data for the 2014 tax season here.

Join the Taxpayer Opportunity Network if you are a tax assistance volunteer, if you work at an organization that operates a tax assistance program, if you are involved in advocacy for tax policy or if you are considering getting involved.
General membership in the Taxpayer Opportunity Network is free and any interested individual may join this national network of practitioners and advocates. The Taxpayer Opportunity Network seeks to advance policies that create a “right-side up” tax system for American taxpayers.
Benefits of membership in the Taxpayer Opportunity Network include:
  • Updates about learning and advocacy opportunities made available through the Network.
  • News about the latest developments in the field of tax preparers serving low- and moderate-income taxpayers.
  • Valuable resources for volunteer tax preparers, VITA/TCE program managers, tax site coordinators, LITC volunteers and others interested in using tax assistance as a gateway to opportunity.
  • Discounts to Taxpayer Opportunity Network-hosted convenings.

For more information about these data or to speak with an expert, please email taxpayeropportunity@cfed.org.

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