New Congress brings familiar proposal for boosting VITA
As a new Congress and new tax-filing season get underway, a familiar proposal has reemerged for strengthening families’ financial security at tax time.
The VITA Act was reintroduced as H.R. 341 last week in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Mike Honda of California and Danny Davis of Illinois, two longtime supporters of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The proposal would help working families by bolstering the federal VITA grant in several significant ways, including:
- Formally authorizing the grant, which began in FY2008 and has recently held steady at $12 million,
- Calling for a grant increase to $30 million annually for five years,
- Putting $5 million toward creation of a National Center to Promote Quality, Excellence, and Evaluation in VITA, and
- Allowing VITA programs the flexibility to use their grant dollars for asset-building and financial-education services, in addition to free tax preparation for working households.
“VITA helps working families comply with their tax obligations, claim any tax credits and refunds for which they qualify, and pursue savings and other asset-building avenues,” said NCTC Executive Director Jackie Lynn Coleman. “However, families are beginning to lose this help as program resources dwindle at the local, state, and philanthropic levels – even as cuts are being threatened at the federal level.”
“The VITA Act would take several significant steps toward shoring-up these critical supports for families who work hard but still struggle to get by,” she said.
This is the second Congress in which NCTC has worked with Rep. Honda to introduce and pursue a version of the VITA Act. We similarly are working with Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio toward its reintroduction in the U.S. Senate; he first filed this bill in 2010.
In addition, NCTC is working with Congressman Xavier Becerra of California toward eventual reintroduction and pursuit of the wider-ranging Taxpayer Bill of Rights legislation, which includes similar, VITA-strengthening provisions.
Please join us in building Congressional co-sponsorship support for legislation strengthening VITA and helping its client families from coast to coast. And watch NCTC’s blog for further news and updates about these bills and supporting advocacy opportunities.