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Deaf Tax VITA Pilot

The REI Tour Deaf Tax VITA Pilot was designed to build capacity and infrastructure for Deaf taxpayers to access services in existing free tax assistance programs/systems, both public and private, that serve low-income Deaf individuals.

The Pilot was created in 2008, after a number of REI Tour cities requested assistance in supporting Deaf taxpayers. NDI in partnership with Schwarz Financial Services/ and IRS Deaf Empowerment and Advocacy Forum designed and implemented the pilot in collaboration with five REI Tour cities. Snap!VRS provided their video relay service phones and installation technology assistance at no cost. The pilot utilized real-time American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) certified off-site Deaf tax preparers to bring free tax preparation to Deaf taxpayers who were Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) eligible.

A total of 80 federal returns were prepared including 13 for families. These 80 returns generated $111,343 in federal refunds and $35,092 in state refunds. Included in these refunds is $39,086 in EITC. The taxpayers assisted through this Pilot saved $11,353 in tax preparation fees, money they would have spent if they had gone to a professional tax preparer. Pilot Phase One Report
August 2009
(1.3mb, PDF)
DeafTax VITA Pilot in 2011

The second year of the Pilot saw significant growth with 15 cities involved. There were 253 returns prepared during 2010 with Deaf taxpayers receiving $281,488 in refunds of which $85,465 was EITC. This free service saved the taxpayers over $42,000 in paid preparer fees. Two of the Intake sits were located in New York City and accounted for 124 of the taxpayers assisted or 49% of the total.

The DeafTax VITA project is funded by AT&T and Bank of America and in the summer of 2010 the project received a three-year grant from the Foster Friess Family Foundation of Jackson, WY to continue and enhance the Pilot of DeafTax VITA.
As of the last week in March, 2011 the seven IRS certified preparers have completed 273 returns for a total refund of over $451,000. 

For more information, please contact:

Johnette Hartnett, [email protected]
Judy Stengel, [email protected]