The Inclusive Economy
Low-Income Taxpayers Receive Nearly $4 Billion Thanks to Community Tax Preparers
By J.C. Craig on 04/02/2015 @ 05:00 PM
In recognition of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Awareness Day on March 10, CFED and the recently launched Taxpayer Opportunity Network released a new breakdown of the most current IRS data, which explores the impact of community tax preparation services. The data reveal that in 2014, more than $3.89 billion in federal income taxes was returned to 3.2 million taxpayers with modest wages as a result of services offered by IRS-certified volunteers.
VITA programs offer lower-income taxpayers a free, high-quality alternative to more costly, and often predatory, tax preparation services. VITA programs are IRS-sponsored and closely monitored by the agency, giving them a far lower error rate than many self- and paid- tax preparation services. “Volunteer income tax assistance not only helps taxpayers and their families make the most of their tax returns free of charge, but also helps to stimulate the local economy by putting more money back into the pockets of local consumers,” said CFED President Andrea Levere.
Of the money returned to taxpayers in the 2014 tax season, more than $1.1 billion was returned to workers through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is widely regarded as one of the nation's most powerful anti-poverty programs, yet one in every five workers eligible for the credit does not claim it. The IRS reports that those most likely to leave money on the table include the elderly, workers with disabilities, grandparents raising children, English language learners and those living in remote areas. VITA sites help to raise awareness of the EITC in their communities to ensure that every eligible worker claims it and gets the correct amount.
As we near the end of tax season, CFED extends its gratitude the thousands of IRS-certified volunteers who make free tax preparation possible in their communities.