IRS Partnership—Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)

With so many tax benefits available today, taxes can serve as the starting point leading to greater prosperity for many people. In 2000, the IRS changed its approach to meeting individual taxpayers’ needs for tax education, awareness and assistance by establishing an office called SPEC (Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication). In 2008 IRS-SPEC cultivated a partnership with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated and shared mutual goals in three key areas:

  • Promoting tax understanding and awareness
  • Preparing tax returns for free for low-to-moderate income people
  • Encouraging personal asset building and self-sufficiency through tax incentives

Mission Statement: To assist taxpayers in satisfying their tax responsibilities through collaborative efforts with IRS-SPEC and thus creating and sharing value by informing, educating and communicating with members of the community.

Guiding Principles

The International Headquarters of Phi Beta Sigma will strive to achieve this mission by:

  • Supporting volunteer-based initiatives to address underserved community segments, primarily through awareness campaigns and free tax preparation
  • Reaching out to our customers through trained Sigma personnel
  • Supporting fully this partnership
  • Leveraging our resources to reach rural as well as urban tax payers.

Our Partnership

In addition to strengthening local relationships and offering valuable services through our partnership, Phi Beta Sigma will:

  • Bring dollars and other resources into the community
  • Provide members and volunteers valuable personal skills and financial insights
  • Satisfy community outreach goals or requirements

In this partnership, Phi Beta Sigma will be able provide the membership and community with information and assistance that need, want and value. Through this alliance with IRS-SPEC, Phi Beta Sigma will reach the following audiences:

  • Low to moderate income population:Phi Beta Sigma will reach out to low–to-moderate income individuals, offering them tax credit assistance that puts more money in their pockets.
  • Older American population: With the aging population which includes our membership, Phi Beta Sigma will reach out to this segment and with the assistance of IRS-SPEC to bring tax help and information to a taxpayer group that often lives on a fixed income.
  • General population: As an international fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma in association with IRS-SPEC, can further expand its community objectives in terms of Bigger and Better Business by providing tax information to people who have just had a child, started their first job, bought a home, retired, etc.
  •  Members: In terms of membership satisfaction and benefits this partnership with IRS-SPEC offers members of Phi Beta Sigma valuable personal skills and financial insights.
  • Student Population: With our links to the collegiate population and the academic community, our partnership with IRS-SPEC can add an increased sense of volunteerism to the list of attributes held by these future taxpayers. Collegiate members could provide valuable tax assistance and information to their parents and peers while learning more about the federal system.
  • Disabled Population: In reaching out to the disabled community, Phi Beta Sigma with IRS-SPEC can make this population aware of tax credits, alternative media and other tolls available to assist them in understanding and meeting their tax responsibilities.

The Strategy

Although there is no specific formula for reaching these shared goals through the strength of this partnership, Phi Beta Sigma with IRS-SPEC commits to support local and national initiatives by offering support in the following areas:

  • Technical tax expertise
  • Research data based on tax filing statistics
  • Customized tax education
  • Marketing products and materials
  • Access to local and national partnership networks
  • Suggestions and support for building coalitions
  • Ideas for local and national partnership models