During the 2018 tax season, Prosperity Now and the Social Policy Institute partnered with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Prosperity Now on an initiative to standardize and enhance the data collection efforts at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. These sites provide free tax filing services to low- and moderate-income tax filers, and often provide other services (such as bank account opening, financial coaching, and savings programs) in conjunction with tax filing.
This enhanced data collection, which will allow for a more robust measurement of tax time savings, financial behaviors, and financial well-being in VITA populations, has the potential to substantially increase the knowledge base about who VITA clients are and what works in promoting financial capability at tax time. Additionally, we will be collecting follow-up data on the use of the refund among VITA filers, a first for this population. Through this work, the Social Policy Institute is also partnering with EARN—a financial capability-focused nonprofit—to examine the needs of different tax filing populations, such as online filers, nonprofit participants, and VITA filers.