IRS cuts ACORN connections
Mr. Tax Law Writing Tax Evader

Viva VITA!

All the recent focus on ACORN and its now-severed ties with the IRS also has produced more interest in the VITA, or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

Apparently, some folks think that the few bad apples caught on the hidden ACORN videotapes represent the way the overall VITA services are provided. They don't.

My tax-blogging colleague taxgirl offers a fine argument for continuing the VITA program. As she notes, this IRS-supported program does a lot of good.

VITA logo

Through VITA, low- to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and less) individuals who need help filing their returns can get it at no cost.

Let's be honest. Too many of the tax laws are too complex and too many folks can't afford to hire a tax pro. Thanks to  VITA, they don't have to worry about that.

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, also noted on the free tax help "flag" above, provides similar tax assistance to people aged 60 and older.

Lend a hand: And the IRS is always looking for ways to improve VITA. The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel has a standing VITA committee, through which the IRS gets taxpayer help to ensure the program does, and improves, its service to the millions of taxpayers who use it each year.

If you want to make sure that VITA, its reputation and its tax advice are above reproach, consider joining the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel when it asks for applicants next year.

Or get into the act before then and, as taxgirl suggests, become a VITA volunteer yourself. VITA sites typically are set up at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient, public locations.

As filing season nears, you can locate the nearest VITA site by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. You also can get an idea of where 2010 VITA sites might be by checking out the IRS list of 2009 VITA grant recipients.

If you do volunteer, you'll probably come away with a very different impression of VITA than what's been generated by all the guilt-by-association talk in connection with ACORN.

And you'll also probably feel darn good about helping someone else do the right thing when it comes to filing their returns.


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Actually there is no financial assistance from the IRS in LA COUNTY. You have to apply for a federal match grant (started in 2009)- nonprofits still have to find other funding to support their efforts.

Mary O'Keeffe

I'm sorry to hear about Vita's experience with assistance at the VITA sites where she has volunteered.

The Albany IRS office has provided OUTSTANDING support to VITA sites in the greater Capital District of New York. The United Way has recognized the outstanding work of the local IRS office with a community impact award. You can read more here.

Kay @ Don't Mess With Taxes

True, you're not going to see a lot of IRS staff at the sites, but they do offer guidance and the big support is financial. Most of the nonprofit organizations that set up and run the VITA sites wouldn't be able to do so without the money from the IRS.


Maybe it is me but how many VITA programs actually get help from the IRS?

I ran a VITA program and got minimal if any assistance from the local IRS. Another school ran a VITA program and got the same.

I left for another city and helped out with a 3rd schools VITA and saw again....minimal IRS support.

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