To expand the capacity of VITA partners across the country, NCTC is working hard this year to authorize the VITA Act of 2011, and local outreach in your Congressional district is a key part of the strategy. NCTC is asking our community partners to discuss the impact of VITA programs and the importance of refundable tax credits in promoting economic advancement for working Americans with their member of Congress during the August Congressional Recess (August 8-September 5). You can also ask the member of Congress to co-sponsor the VITA Act of 2011 (S.816 in the U.S. Senate or H.R. 2151 in the U.S. House of Representatives).
As you may know, during the tax year 2009, VITA centers prepared 3.1 million tax returns across 12,326 sites and brought back approximately $1.6 billion in tax refunds to taxpayers whose average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) was $18,800. The VITA Act of 2011 would ensure:
- Strong compliance among underserved taxpayer populations.
- Significant decrease in administrative burden and cost associated with operating the federal tax return process. VITA’s primary use of electronic submission saves the IRS millions of dollars in administrative costs every year.
- Safe alternatives to untrained tax preparers who may exploit low-income taxpayers.
Here are some options:
- Schedule an in-district meeting with your Member of Congress or key staff handling tax policy issues in their local office. In-district meetings are a great way to build a relationship with your local Member of Congress and his or her staff. These meetings can be used to educate members about your organization and the issues that you work on. All in-district meetings help build the case that there are people that actually live in the Congressperson’s district that support an issue. Don’t forget that you have very helpful information about how programs work in the member’s district and they want to hear from you.
- Follow your Congressional leader’s schedule, and attend local forums or town hall meetings that he or she may be holding. You may be able to make a comment in support of VITA programs, reinforce the need to preserve existing refundable tax credits that promote work and economic sustainability for working American families, or even request their support for the VITA Act of 2011.
- Write a letter to the editor in support of VITA and the other services that your organization provides. While your Member of Congress is home, the chance that he or she will see it is much greater. NCTC can provide a template for you to use.