Heller’s free tax-prep amendment passes Senate as part of minibus appropriations measure

The U.S. Senate has approved a bipartisan federal tax preparation-related amendment authored by U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) as part of the larger Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act of 2019.

H.R. 6147, part of the minibus appropriations bill currently being considered by the U.S. Senate, includes Senate Amendment 3405, which Sen. Heller proposed on July 24 to increase the amount available for a Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance matching grants program for tax return preparation assistance, according to the congressional record summary. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is the lead cosponsor of the amendment, which passed the Senate on a vote of 98-1.

If enacted as part of H.R. 6147, the amendment would increase federal funding from $15 million to $20 million for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free federal income tax filing help to people who make $54,000 or less a year, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speakers.

“Each year, VITA programs help tens of thousands of Nevadans and millions of taxpayers around the country keep more of their hard-earned money,” Sen. Heller said, citing recent data showing that online VITA sites helped nearly 23,000 Nevadans file their federal income tax returns and processed refunds in excess of $25 million.

“It’s important that we build on the success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and take additional steps to ensure that Nevada families are fully able to realize the benefits of the new tax law,” said Sen. Heller.
The amendment, he added, “creates a level-playing field for Nevadans and will allow them to maximize their returns, and I’ll continue to work to see the measure signed into law.”

Sen. Brown noted that Wall Street executives and big corporations “have armies of accountants at their disposal, but most people don’t have that luxury.”

“That’s why we have VITA sites – to work for American families,” he said, thanking Sen. Heller for his leadership on the amendment.