VITA Grant FAQs Category: Program Plan and Civil Rights Narrative
1. In determining prior year performance and my projections, what returns count toward the delivery of the VITA grant program?
Current and prior year federal returns prepared and electronically filed by VITA volunteers; federal returns prepared and filed by customers at facilitated self-assistance VITA sites; and paper federal returns filed by VITA site customers and containing an accurate SIDN. Credit is also provided for amended federal returns. All applicants are required to have processes in place to track production. Note: Extensions for filing federal returns and state returns are not included in performance reporting; however, they may be prepared by your program.
2. Are the VITA Grant workbook templates considered part of the 55 page limit for the narrative section?
No. Use of the VITA Grant workbook does not count toward the 55 page limit.
3. In reporting my prior year performance, may I include the returns produced by AARP or other Tax Counseling for the Elderly recipients?
No. The results of AARP or TCE sites may only be claimed by the AARP or TCE sponsoring organizations. If applying for both grants (VITA and TCE), production must be maintained separately and cannot be counted under both programs.
4. Is an EFIN or SIDN required for a proposed site included in the application?
No. The EFIN and SIDN can be requested subsequent to the application submission for proposed sites.
5. Sites could be included in more than one application. Is there a process in place to ensure that different applicants don’t claim the same sites?
Yes. The Grant Program Office checks this through the EFIN and SIDN provided in the plan. If more than one applicant is claiming the site, the GPO will provide this information to the applicants for resolution.
6. What is considered a reasonable increase in return production?
There is no set increase for return production. The increase will be different for each program and should consider the size of the program, the volunteers, and prior growth. Other factors should also be considered, such as changes in sites, coalition members, funding sources, and service delivery models. However, there is an expectation that each grant recipient must show a minimum return production from year-to-year of three percent.
7. How can I obtain training for my volunteers?
IRS offers on-line training for volunteers through Link and Learn Taxes. Information can be found on IRS.gov. If you do not have internet access, a CD-ROM version is available. In addition, IRS offers paper-based training when e-learning is not a viable option for your organization. Your local Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communications (SPEC) representative will assist in developing a training plan that meets IRS requirements.
8. What is the population target? Must an organization include specific targets such as persons with a disability or the elderly?
Organizations applying for a VITA grant may serve low-to-moderate income, elderly, rural, persons with disabilities, limited English proficient or Native Americans. These audiences can be further refined to focus on those individuals your organization supports.
9. Is there an easy way to know where service coverage is lacking? How do you evaluate this area?
Census data can be very helpful in determining the area of focus for the geographic area you propose to cover. Information on sources of data is available in the Publication 4671. In addition, your local SPEC - representative is able to provide information on areas lacking sufficient service.
The Grant Program Offices uses this same information, Census information, tax return filing, and program information that demonstrates by state, county and zip code the percent of coverage for the underserved populations targeted by the VITA program.
10. What are the required program measures?
There are five program measures your organization must report:
- Taxpayers Assisted – Number of federal returns prepared.
- Increased E-file – Number of returns e-filed divided by total number of returns prepared.
- Services Extended – Number of sites opened to prepare returns.
- Underserved Taxpayers Assisted – Primary – Number of returns prepared with primary focus characteristic; a return may be counted under each characteristic it represents.
- Underserved Taxpayers Assisted – Secondary – Number of returns prepared with secondary focus characteristic; a return may be counted under each characteristic it represents.
In addition to these five program measures, recipients are expected to report on four program indicators:
- Number of Volunteers – The total number of individuals working in the VITA program as reported on the Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Smmary Report.
- Total Volunteer Hours – Report the number of hours contributed by volunteers to the VITA Program.
- Volunteer Training – Report the number of volunteers certified at each level of tax law training, e.g., basic, intermediate, and advanced. Use the IRS training levels found on the Form 13206 for the breakdown of levels of training.
- Quality Review Process Used – Report the number of sites using designated, peer and self review. A site is only counted once. If a mixture of methods is used at a site, report the method used the most.
11. At what level (program, department, or other) should the civil rights narrative requirements be reported?
The civil rights narrative section is prepared based on the lowest level in your organization, specifically the office with responsibility for the delivery of VITA services.
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