Expanding VITA: The Final Report

In 2010, Prosperity Now's Self-Employment Tax Initiative (SETI), the National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) and the IRS Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (IRS-SPEC) teams partnered to develop a pilot initiative testing the efficacy of expanding the parameters of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs to include broader Schedule C preparation. SETI, NCTC and IRS-SPEC determined a set of expanded Schedule C parameters for implementation of the pilot, selected twelve VITA programs with experience preparing Schedule C returns and worked with those sites to develop training materials, certification tests and other tools for the pilot's implementation. During the 2011 tax season, the Schedule C Pilot local partners—a group of twelve community-based tax assistance providers—delivered free tax assistance to low-income self-employed filers, in addition to their wage-earning clients. They collected data throughout the process in order to demonstrate the feasibility of bringing robust Schedule C parameters into scope for all VITA programs. The Schedule C VITA Pilot Final Report documents the results of the Tax Year 2010 Schedule C VITA Pilot.

Several of the Schedule C VITA Pilot sites are also AFI grantees, so the Pilot was recently featured in an article in the AFI IDA Resources Update published on September 8, "Self-Employment Tax Centers Help Self-Employed and Small Businesses Prepare Taxes."

What's next for the Schedule C VITA Pilot?
The Pilot will continue through the 2011 tax year, and all the partners involved are working steadily to revisit and clarify the pilot parameters and develop new trainings, certification tests, data collection tools and intake materials. The pilot will expand to include at least four more sites, to be determined through an application process run by NCTC.

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