Posted Date: February 4, 2013
Jennifer Douglas , Deputy Chief Customer Experience Officer, Federal Student Aid
Subject: Federal Student Aid and Internal Revenue Service Partnership Alliance & Planned Email Campaign
FSA & IRS Partnership Alliance
We are pleased to announce a new partnership between Federal Student Aid (FSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that will focus on reaching more individuals in low to moderate-income communities to provide them with information, assistance, and access to relevant IRS and FSA services.
This collaboration is the result of the relationship initiated when FSA and the IRS developed the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) in 2009. The IRS DRT enables a simplified process for millions of federal student aid applicants to provide federal tax information. The success of this collaboration has led to a desire to identify additional ways for each agency to help promote and inform citizens about services or products that can assist in improving their current circumstances or that could create long-term financial benefits.
FSA believes this partnership will contribute to reaching President Obama's 2020 Goal of having the highest proportion of adults with postsecondary degrees and certificates in the world. Achieving the 2020 Goal requires the majority of Americans to be prepared to enroll in at least one year of higher education or job training and FSA recognizes the need to focus on awareness and access to assist with transitioning these individuals successfully to higher education. As a result, this partnership will focus on increasing awareness of the federal student aid programs and create opportunities for increased access to the federal student aid application.
The IRS's primary goal in establishing this partnership is to expand the awareness of service options that bring value to taxpayers and the IRS, and to increase awareness and use of those services. In particular, the IRS is seeking to increase the usage of the services offered through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program, which both offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.
FSA & IRS Partnership – Email Campaign
One of the first efforts in support of this new partnership will focus on communicating to federal student aid applicants information about the free services provided through the IRS VITA Program. We will communicate this messaging via email to two target audiences.
The first emails are scheduled for distribution February 8th – 10th and will be targeted to low-income applicants who indicated they had previously filed a tax return as they would likely benefit from knowing about the availability of the free VITA Program services. The VITA Program offers traditional face-to-face tax preparation with an IRS-certified volunteer or use of a facilitated self-assistance service where individuals can prepare and file their own tax return with access to an IRS-certified volunteer for questions.
The second target audience consists of low-income applicants who indicate they are not planning to file a tax return and do not meet the IRS tax filing threshold that requires the filing of a tax return. This audience will receive information about the tax benefits they may be eligible for if they were to choose to file a tax return. For example, many of these individuals may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Messaging in these emails will also include similar references on how to take advantage of the VITA program's free services. These emails are scheduled for distribution in three rounds – February 12th –14th; March 6th – 8th; and March 25th – 27th.
For your reference, email samples are attached. We ask that you use this information as a reference for any student inquiries and we encourage you to share the information with others as appropriate.
Additional information about the IRS's VITA Program can be found by visiting http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers. For additional information about the FSA & IRS Partnership Alliance or about the planned email campaign, you may contact Shamarli.Kollock@ed.gov.