This tax season, 85,000 trained volunteers across the country have helped file more than 3 million federal tax returns free of charge for low- and moderate-income people. Tax Day is the perfect time to reflect on the critical services that these volunteers provide.
Free tax preparation programs such as the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide programs are national efforts to provide professional tax filing assistance to low-income households.
Together, the VITA and AARP programs operate more than 10,000 sites across the country. Volunteers are certified to work with clients after undergoing hours of training. As early as January, the volunteers help clients complete their returns, review them for accuracy, and submit them electronically. In addition to helping taxpayers file their returns accurately, volunteers help clients claim all the tax credits they’ve earned, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, which help workers meet day-to-day needs and care for their families.
The volunteers’ work is a critical service to these working families — but it doesn’t end on April 15. After today’s deadline, volunteers will continue to help with late filers and post-tax season tasks, such as identifying new locations for the tax preparation services and contacting employers to spread the word about the services, following up with clients to connect them to community and social services, or providing financial education classes. And, CBPP’s Tax Credit Outreach website will continue to serve as a reference for these volunteers and organizations hosting free tax filing sites to support these efforts.
These volunteers have made it possible for millions of low- and moderate-income people to file their taxes by April 15 — and to claim the tax credits they’ve earned. There’s no better day than Tax Day to say thank you.