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

I suggested that folks who like the idea of giving money back to the people the government stole it from should consider volunteering in the VITA program.

In that program, volunteers are first given some basic training in tax preparation and then they help people with low incomes to prepare their tax forms (and, often, to get refunds and the EITC).

I should note that you don’t have to be any sort of tax genius to volunteer for this program:

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration had 35 dummy tax returns prepared at “VITA” sites . Exactly none of the returns were prepared correctly. But don’t worry — VITA only prepared 843,803 returns last season.

The Inspector General’s report notes:

The tax returns filed by these 843,803 taxpayers involved refunds of approximately $996 million and liabilities of approximately $66 million.

So each tax return that is completed takes, on average, $1,100 out of the U.S. treasury and puts that money back in somebody’s pocket. There are far more people who need help filing their returns via VITA than there are VITA volunteers — some of these folks don’t bother to file, or they file simplified returns without using the credits and deductions they qualify for.

If you’re paying taxes this year, VITA is a good way to undo the damage.

Taxwire reports that the day when the IRS uses bounty hunters to go after people may be here soon:

The proposals would permit the IRS to use private debt collectors and pay them from a revolving account funded by up to 25 percent of the delinquent taxes that they collect.