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Advocacy Center

The Taxpayer Opportunity Network Advocacy Center - Your Gateway to Tax Policy

Mission Statement

The TON advocacy mission is centered around several short and long term policy goals.

Increasing the Federal appropriation of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program from $12 million annually, to $18 million annually.

Working with Federal legislators to codify VITA permanently into statute.

Collaborating with divisions within the IRS to pursue administrative advocacy solutions to make VITA more effective and efficient.

Taxpayer Opportunity Network - Federal Advocacy

The following are the key actions being taken by TON and TON members to improve the policy landscape for the community tax field

  • Strengthening VITA to Boost Financial Security at Tax Time & Beyond

    With the IRS reducing taxpayer support and community tax sites across the country experiencing high demand for services, VITA is at a critical moment. The paper explores concerns about the ability of the VITA program to meet the needs of lower-income taxpayers and recommends policy solutions to ensure the program's success well into the future.
  • Volunteer Tax Assistance Programs - Federal Policy Brief

    The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs support individuals and families throughout the tax filing season at locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, focusing support on low- and moderate-income (LMI) individuals and families, persons with disabilities, those with limited English proficiency, as well as the elderly....
  • Senate VITA Act - Senator Sherrod Brown

    S.996 - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Act

    To facilitate nationwide availability of volunteer income tax assistance for low-income and underserved populations, and for other purposes....
  • House VITA Act - Congressman Michael Honda

    H.R.341 - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Act

    Directs the Secretary of the Treasury, through the IRS, to establish a Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Matching Grant Program (VITA grant program) for the development, expansion, or continuation of volunteer tax preparation programs to assist low-income taxpayers and members of underserved populations...
  • The EITC: A Powerful Savings Program for Low-Wage Workers

    Households without enough liquid savings to subsist for three months at the federal poverty level are considered “liquid asset poor.” These Americans are just one lost job or surprise expense away from serious financial hardship. Nearly half of Americans (44%)1 were liquid asset poor in 2014, with significant variation among states and localities. For instance, just 24% of Minnesota households are liquid asset poor, compared with 64% of Alabama households...
  • The Rainy Day EITC

    Financial stability depends on emergency or “rainy day” savings. Low-wage workers regularly experience large drops in income and unexpected expenses.1 A household with accessible savings can absorb the impact of these financial shocks, 2 but a near-majority of Americans lack even a modest amount of rainy day savings...

Taxpayer Opportunity Network Stories

Below are the stories, interviews and publications developed by TON in 2015

  • At 45, the VITA Program Offers So Much More Than Just Tax Assistance

    As the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program approaches its 45th anniversary, it continues to perform as one of the most effective and efficient federal programs in the country. But for millions of Americans, VITA stands for so much more.With 12,000 sites operating in every state and the District of Columbia, VITA programs offer a range of tax assistance services that support America’s low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities...
  • Congress Must Act to Save the EITC and CTC - Find out how

    Recently dozens of Taxpayer Opportunity Network (TON) member organizations from across the country joined together to urge Congress to protect and strengthen two critical programs for low-wage workers: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Effective low-cost or free tax support helps families and individuals secure important benefits, reduce debt and meet their civic obligations as taxpayers, while setting them on the path to financial security and opportunity....
  • Congress Can Improve Tax Return Accuracy—Without Hurting Low-Wage Workers

    Last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee included a very damaging paragraph in its 191-page financial services budget bill. Under the guise of reducing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) error rates, the bill would quintuple the number of pages low-wage workers need to complete to file their taxes. In other words, the bill alleges to increase compliance but would ultimately only increase complexity. This strategy will harm low-wage workers without tackling the problems it purports to address...
  • What Free Tax Prep Means to Real Families

    If you asked Shakeila, a sample room coordinator for a paper company in St. Paul, Minnesota, why she feels the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is critical to her family, she will say: “Because I really can’t afford to lose $500 to $1,000 just to have someone prepare my taxes.”...
  • Volunteer Tax Preparers Helped Return Nearly $4 Billion to Low-Income Taxpayers Across the Nation in 2015

    More than $3.9 billion in federal income taxes have been returned to those with modest wages as a result of free tax preparation services offered by IRS-certified volunteers in 2015. A new breakdown of national IRS data shows that tax preparers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites across the nation helped more than 3.3 million taxpayers make the most of their returns during the 2015 tax season. VITA programs offer lower-income taxpayers a free alternative to more costly, and often predatory, tax preparation services. VITA sites are IRS-sponsored and are closely monitored by the agency, giving them a far lower error rate than many self- and paid- tax preparation services. 
  • The High Cost of Underfunding the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Programs
    Picture this: a single-parent household in Small Town, USA with a daughter attending college and a son readying to graduate from high school. The daughter is preparing to file her FAFSA forms to secure federal and state financial aid for her sophomore year. The high school son will soon be taking the SAT and requires several textbooks to study and review. The family is eligible for both the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC)....
  • Congress Can Improve Tax Return Accuracy—Without Hurting Low-Wage Workers

    Last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee included a very damaging paragraph in its 191-page financial services budget bill. Under the guise of reducing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) error rates, the bill would quintuple the number of pages low-wage workers need to complete to file their taxes. In other words, the bill alleges to increase compliance but would ultimately only increase complexity. This strategy will harm low-wage workers without tackling the problems it purports to address...

Taxpayer Opportunity Network Advocacy Tools

Listed here are engagement and outreach tools that can be utilized to plan and spur policy actions

IRS VITA Grant Program site

As the overseers of the VITA and VITA grant programs, the IRS maintains information on applying for a VITA matching grant.

"It's Not Like I'm Poor": New Research and Political Prospect for the EITC and VITA

On the 40th anniversary of the largest economic mobility program in the country, CFED hosted an event on Capitol Hill to focus in on the politics, policy, research and real-life impact of the EITC. Watch a recording of the event, featuring Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on CSPAN. Handouts from the event can be found here.

Taxpayer Opportunity Network VITA State Engagement

The following are TON state-specific engagement and research tools

2015 Taxpayer Opportunity Network Advocacy Programs

Listed here are advocacy actions undertaken by TON

CFED and United Way Worldwide VITA Support Letter

We are writing to strongly encourage you to support $18 million in funding for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant program, which leverages volunteer power to provide free tax preparation support to millions of low-and-moderate-income working individuals and families in some of the most underserved and hardest-to-reach communities in this country...

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