VITA: On Congress’ radar screen
It’s good to see the value of VITA reemerging in key federal policy communications recently – the product of strong efforts by advocates and Congressional champions alike.
For example, as lawmakers begin to focus on budget decisions, nearly 50 of them have personally endorsed the need to ensure strong resources for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance in Fiscal Year 2014.
Congress should ensure “the highest level of funding possible” for the program, seven Senators declared in a letter circulated by U.S. Sens. John Rockefeller and Sherrod Brown. Echoing that sentiment was a letter signed by U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra and 39 fellow Congressmen, who called for devoting “robust” resources to VITA.
NCTC and the VITA field applaud the leadership of these lawmakers, who addressed their communications to the leaders of House and Senate subcommittees that guide appropriations decisions affecting critical taxpayer services. Particularly coming on the heels of President Obama’s call for increasing the federal VITA matching grant by $6 million, these are important demonstrations of support.
Meanwhile, a dose of VITA can be found in the report that Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) issued this week, summarizing the many tax-reform ideas and input recently collected by the House Ways & Means Committee.
It’s buried pretty deeply in the document. But there, on p. 558, is the call for strengthening VITA resources in a number of ways suggested by NCTC, embodied in the VITA Act proposal, and echoed by several of our policy-and-advocacy partners.
From bolstering tax credits for working families to improving tax-time savings opportunities, the JCT report captures many of the other ideas NCTC and partners put forward – in addition to scores of suggestions made by others.
The future of tax-reform and budget discussions remains uncertain. But it’s good to know that Congress continues to hear about VITA and the working families it helps. Let’s keep that trend going!
By Sean Noble, Director of Policy & Research