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Virtual VITA

National Disability Institute joined forces with the IRS as well as with United Way of Tampa Bay to conduct a Virtual VITApilot program in Florida during the 2012 tax season to increase outreach to taxpayers with disabilities.

Building off community tax coalition efforts to reach rural taxpayers and NDIs work in spearheading a DeafTax initiative with the IRS that allowed ASL-fluent VITA tax preparers and deaf and hard-of-hearing taxpayers to use sign language to complete their tax returns via videophone, NDI and United Way of Tampa Bay worked with nine community-based organizations serving people with disabilities throughout Northeast and Central Florida to serve as remote intake sites to provide VITA access to persons with disabilities. Virtual VITA clients scheduled appointments with VITA tax preparers at United Way of Tampa Bay and connected with their tax preparer at their appointed time via videoconference from the intake site. Tax documents were scanned and sent through a secured portal to the VITA tax preparer, allowing the taxpayer to see their tax return being completed in real time, which was then sent back through a secured portal for signature. More than 92 taxpayers used Virtual VITA services, 20 of whom were deaf taxpayers, resulting in $78,000 in tax refunds and $35,000 in EITC. National Disability Institute received funding for the pilot from its sponsor Bank of America.

For more information on Virtual VITA, contact Michael Roush at mroush@ndi-inc.org