Tax Prep Dispatch: The Drop-Off Process

Considerations and best practices for drop-off and virtual tax filing services.



Virtual VITA Toolkit: Program Strategies

Program strategies grounded in an understanding of your community can increase the likelihood of engagement and follow-through. The following resources are intended to support VITA programs with implementation strategies at key program stages, like outreach and intake, and offer examples of how other virtual VITA programs have addressed critical challenges.



Tax Time: An opportunity to Start Small and Save Up

This paper provides a description of how having liquid savings contributes to people’s financial stability and resiliency, and the unique opportunity that tax time offers to begin saving for the short and longer term. Starting to save or continuing to save when receiving a tax refund may lead to longer term financial well-being. 

This paper also provides a few examples of how Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs creatively used Bureau tools, resources and technical assistance to encourage savings as well as some of the results they reported. It provides insights from a subgroup of the programs in the cohort that collected additional information from consumers on their intent to save, the various types of accounts into which they saved, and the goals they were striving for by saving. Finally, this paper offers recommendations on some strategies that can be employed to increase people’s interest and commitment to saving during the tax preparation process. 



VITA: A step-by-step guide to increase your impact

In this report, The Common Cents Lab and MetLife Foundation share findings from the experiments we have run over the past several years with VITA providers to improve tax-related outcomes. We encourage you to consider implementing these ideas and engaging in additional conversations about how to use behavioral science to increase financial capability for all taxpayers. 

The report outlines a series of interventions that exemplify
ways these best practices have been implemented in the field and
how to use behavioral science to further extend their impact. We’ve
organized these interventions into two categories:

  • Increasing uptake and retention in VITA, and
  • Increasing refund savings.



More Than Just Taxes

Tax time financial capability services offered at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites range from encouraging taxpayers to save a portion of their refund to free credit reviews, to referrals to financial coaching, and others in between.

This report from Prosperity Now summarizes research findings on VITA programs offering asset-building and financial capability services. Specifically, findings address barriers to be overcome, facilitating factors, and the opportunities for targeted outreach, tailored messages, and policy improvements to move the needle on Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) take-up rates. 



VITA Volunteer Training Platform

This is Prosperity Now’s Taxpayer Opportunity Network VITA Volunteer Training platform, designed to help VITA volunteers (in the United States) train and become certified to provide free tax preparation services. These resources can provide a complete training or supplement the training offered by your VITA site.

This training platform contains twelve (12) modules to prepare you to pass the IRS Volunteer Standards of Conduct, Intake, Interview and Quality Review, and Basic Volunteer Certification Tests. This resource is free and open to all VITA volunteers, program managers, site coordinators and others.  Feel free to access and/or download as many of the materials as you’d like! 



How Improved Training Strategies can Benefit Taxpayers Using VITA Programs


Many volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) sites experience inaccuracy in the taxes prepared according to audits conducted by the treasury inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA). Effective training strategies may influence the accuracy rates of tax returns prepared at VITA sites. Following the conceptual framework of the human capital theory, this multiple case study described the training strategies used by 4 VITA site coordinators in northwest Indiana. Emergent themes included multiple training strategies, mostly dependent on the size of the VITA site; quality reviews and their critical role in ensuring the accuracy of taxes prepared at VITA sites; and annual certification requirements to help verify volunteers’ understanding of tax law. Positive social change might occur when qualifying taxpayers gain access to the tax knowledge and expertise of volunteer tax preparers, resulting in more confidence in their tax situations. Under-served individuals should receive the tax credits and deductions to which they are entitled through accurate tax preparation.



Tax Time Savings for Native Communities: Ten Best Practices for Effective Native VITA Programs

VITA Sites Serving Native Communities: The State of the Field

Increasing saving at tax time and promising practices for the field

Virtual VITA: Expanding Free Tax Preparation. Program Insights

This brief highlights findings from a small-scale pilot that integrated Virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services at two New York City Head Start programs during the 2013 tax season. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) coordinated the pilot in partnership with the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) Region Food Bank For New York City was the VITA provider. Participating Head Start programs included The Children’s Aid Society and Kingsbridge Heights Community Center (KHCC).



2014 VITA Data: Volunteer Tax Preparers Helped Return Nearly $4 Billion to Low-Income Taxpayers Across the Nation