2011 Day of Action: A Success!
NCTC members had a record-breaking day of action in Washington, DC on October 13, 2011. Organizations from 18 states had meetings with over 60 congressional offices to ask support for the VITA Act of 2011 and to preserve refundable tax credits. We also hosted a congressional briefing with the Congressman Mike Honda, the lead sponsor of H.R. 2151, the VITA Act of 2011. We hope to grow our days of action to become bigger and better every year.
Organizations came from Arizona to Connecticut to meet with their Senators and Congressman. Local organizations were able to put a real face on the impact of the services they provide to their local communities. Make no mistake, VITA is VITAL for working families and that message was made loud and clear on Capitol Hill.
At our Congressional Briefing, A Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction: Promoting Working Families’ Stability Through Innovative Tax Policies, we were able to illustrate our policy recommendations for Congress through the benefits of taxpayer assistance at local sites. Julie Riddle, board member of KC CASH, located in Kansas City, Missouri, told a moving story about a client who after being wrongfully accused for a crime he did not commit decided to start a motivational speaker company and used their site to help prepare his taxes as a small business owner. Melissa Jensen, associate director from the Community Action Partnership of Utah, told a story about assisting a family who could not afford to go to a paid preparer, and would not have been able to claim the EITC if they had to file the paperwork on their own. The family was able to use their sites free tax services to claim a tax credit and was able to put that money to use to help their family.
The briefing also dispelled many myths about tax refunds. First, most refunds are not wasted on fruitless or extravagant purchases. Families use this money to pay down debt, or put in savings. Also, the use of trained VITA volunteers actually help families file tax returns with very high accuracy rates.
Mike McBride, Acting Director, Headquarters’ Operation, Strategic Partnerships, Education & Communication, Internal Revenue Service, was also at the briefing to discuss the impact of free taxpayer assistance as a stimulus to local communities. Through many national partnerships, the IRS is able to help low and moderate income individuals meet their tax obligations and help save the government money through the use of electronically submitted tax returns that VITA sites process.
Members participated in an advocacy training the night before to learn some of the finer points of advocacy. All members of NCTC can connect with us if you would like your organization to get more involved in advocacy. Check out the policy resource section of our website soon, as your organization can access fact sheets and materials from our day of action.
By Gail Parson, Manager of Civic Engagement