Breaking the Ice: Prosperity Now Releases a New Tax Time Savings Toolkit

As the days get shorter, the community tax preparation field readies for the new filing season. All around the country, programs are gearing up to train volunteers to provide hardworking families with high-quality, effective and no-cost tax preparation. These volunteers come from many walks of life to provide these crucial services and serve as the backbone for any successful program. Also, for many taxpayers, these same volunteers can open doors to financial tools and products which can lead to a pathway to prosperity. When it comes to discussing savings with the clients, however, some volunteers may feel uncomfortable broaching the topic.

With the importance of the tax moment and potential discomfort around talking about savings in mind, the Taxpayer Opportunity Network set out to create a new toolkit to help volunteer tax preparers feel more comfortable with starting a conversation about savings with their clients. Thanks to the generous support of Capital One, we were able to launch into this project, beginning with the information discovery process. For this great task, the Taxpayer Opportunity Network convened their field experts who make up the Tax Time Financial Capability Working Group. Using insights gained from the group and feedback from volunteers across the country and experts in motivational interviewing at the University of Florida Extension Service and our consultants, we created our toolkit entitled “Start the Savings Conversation: A Toolkit for VITA Volunteers.”

This toolkit includes a series of short training videos which introduce the topic of savings and demonstrate how volunteer tax preparers can incorporate savings into the conversation at tax time. In addition, there are supplemental tools featuring a specialized roleplay training exercise, saving conversation starters, responding to common objections and more! These tools can serve as a fun and effective way to help your volunteers understand how to navigate the savings conversation through the tax moment. Breaking the ice with clients can be difficult but when armed with this knowledge and expertise, we know your volunteers will be more than ready to encourage clients at your tax sites to take steps toward securing their financial future by saving a portion of their refund this tax season.

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