June 4, 2024

FDIC: New Survey Highlights Potential Bankable Moments at IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Providers

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released a report today providing insight into the role the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) providers have in helping unbanked Americans access banking products and services. The FDIC’s research suggests VITA providers are well-positioned to expand economic inclusion during bankable moments, such as when a client opens a bank or credit union account in order to direct deposit their tax refund. 

The report finds that three-quarters of respondent sites that were not already partnered with a bank or credit union cited at least one knowledge, comfort, or resource barrier as a reason for not partnering. The report also finds: 

“This survey highlights a promising opportunity to help more low- and moderate income households get banked during tax time.  Our Community Affairs team looks forward to facilitating more partnerships between financial institutions and VITA sites to connect consumers to safe and affordable accounts. We thank the IRS for their continued collaboration,” said FDIC Chairman, Martin J. Gruenberg. 

The purpose of the FDIC Survey of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Providers is to better understand potential opportunities to help unbanked clients of VITA sites open bank or credit union accounts to direct deposit their tax refunds and credits. The survey was fielded from May 15 to June 30, 2023. Of the 486 VITA sites that were invited to participate, 351 responded (a 72 percent response rate), of which 99 sites had a partnership with a bank or credit union in the 2023 tax-filing season. The FDIC collaborated with the Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication Office of the Internal Revenue Service to conduct survey outreach.

In 2023, the FDIC promoted affordable accounts during tax-filing season through collaborations with affordable tax preparation services, such as the IRS’s VITA program. During this period, the FDIC facilitated national and local events, which contributed to at least 35 VITA organizations collaborating with 26 local banks to offer affordable accounts.

The IRS describes VITA providers as locations that offer free tax help to qualifying people who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.

FDIC staff presented the survey findings today to the agency’s Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion (ComE-IN).   

Additional Resource

Creating Partnerships Between Financial Institutions and Organizations Providing Free Tax Assistance to Consumers

This post was originally published here.