IRS Leaves ACORN Off VITA Grant List

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The Internal Revenue Service has published its list of recipients of matching grants for its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, and not surprisingly it omits the controversial community organizing group ACORN.

The group recently attracted unwelcome attention after a series of hidden camera videos emerged showing undercover investigators posing as a pimp and prostitute getting advice from ACORN employees on claiming housing assistance and tax credits for some fictitious underage Salvadoran employees.

Congress subsequently voted to bar funding for the group, and the IRS and other agencies also dropped the group. ACORN, short for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, had previously received funding for its work in helping low- and middle-income people prepare their tax returns, qualify for housing and register to vote.

The IRS’s list of 2009 VITA grant recipients instead includes organizations such as the United Way of the Bay Area, which received $300,000, and the AARP Foundation, which received $551,250. In all, the IRS awarded nearly $8 million in matching grants to 147 organizations.

“We're proud to support the VITA program and their volunteer tax preparers who provide an invaluable service to millions of taxpayers,” said IRS Wage and Investment Operating Division Commissioner Richard Byrd, Jr., in a statement.

The IRS said the funds would be used to enable VITA programs to extend services to underserved populations and the hardest to reach urban and non-urban areas, increase the capacity to file returns electronically, heighten quality control, improve the accuracy of returns prepared by the VITA sites, and enhance the training of volunteers.

A total of 360 organizations submitting applications this year, requesting more than $30 million in matching funds, similar to the prior year.

VITA partners are organizations that provide free federal tax return preparation and electronic filing to low- and moderate-income individuals. For tax year 2009, individuals and families with an adjusted gross income of $49,000 or lower are eligible for assistance.

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Tax practice