VITA: Retake Money from the Government to Give to the Poor

Each year, the IRS trains volunteers to help people with low incomes do their taxes. This helps people with low incomes who otherwise might fail to apply for tax credits that they qualify for, such as the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.

In , volunteers in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program helped 843,803 people fill out their tax forms. This brought $66 million in taxes to the U.S. treasury — but took $996 million back out in refunds. So on average, each of these tax returns took about $1,100 back out of Uncle Sam’s pocket and put it into the pocket of someone who would spend it more responsibly.

There are far more people who need help filing their returns via VITA than there are VITA volunteers, so if you like the idea of playing Robin Hood, I encourage you to sign up. You don’t have to be an income tax wizard — they provide free training, and you can volunteer for positions that don’t involve tax preparation directly if you really don’t want to go anywhere near a 1040.

Training usually takes place around December and January. For information about becoming a VITA volunteer, try calling your local IRS office, or the national IRS tax assistance number at 1‒800‒829‒1040. I haven’t been able to find a central resource for the program on-line, though if you do a Google search, you will see many regional programs and you can probably refine the search to find one specific to your area.

I’m sure you already know that playing the lottery is a dumb idea, but you might not have considered this angle:

The nation’s biggest Powerball jackpot winner is the U.S. Treasury, according to figures compiled by the Iowa Lottery and the Multi-State Lottery Association, which operates the lottery game

The federal government has netted at least $2.85 billion .

Before any of the 302 grand prize winners could cash in tickets, which have totaled more than $7.1 billion, the federal government took its $1.9 billion off the top, according to lottery data.

The federal government also has collected $357 million in taxes withheld from winners of lower-tiered Powerball prizes totaling more than $1.3 billion, lottery officials said.

I’ve added a “best of” page to highlight some of the better pages in The Picket Line archive.