BENEFITING: United Way Silicon Valley
Did you know that IRS-certified volunteers can help prepare your taxes if you make $50,000 or less?
ABOUT THE IRS VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE (VITA) PROGRAM
This program strives to ensure individuals receive all credits and deductions they are entitled to, in order to assure the maximum refund amount is achieved while avoiding hidden fees, all while providing a quality service at no-cost to the taxpayer. Essentially, we help people save money by offering tax preparation services for free.
Our local Earn It! Keep It! $ave It! (EKS) Coalition, organized by United Way Silicon Valley, supports this program.
HOW I AM INVOLVED
I will be entering my second year as a VITA Site Coordinator at a local non-profit. I lead a team of 20+ volunteers to ensure the site:
- has customers to serve (advertising),
- is staffed with volunteers to help those customers (recruiting, orientation, training),
- runs smoothly (operations),
- maintains the highest standards of ethical conduct (compliance), and
- provides quality service (quality control).
WHY I DO IT
What I enjoy the most is meeting and getting to know people (customers and volunteers alike), hearing their stories, and helping customers better understand their tax returns as well as learn about other resources (financial education, credit coaching).
Did you know that tax returns prepared by a paid preparer can cost a taxpayer $150-$250 on average? If you go to some paid preparers: the more credits and deductions you qualify for, the higher your tax preparation costs may be.
With VITA volunteers preparing taxes for free, we can help low- to moderate-income families save that money for something more important (like groceries, rent, paying taxes, education). Every dollar counts.
We may live in the Silicon Valley (an area of great wealth with tech companies galore), but we also live in an area beset by increasing poverty and a struggling middle class. I, however, have seen the direct impact the VITA program has had on our community.
In Santa Clara County alone, nearly 6,100 taxpayers were helped with free tax assistance, with refunds valued at about $7.1 million. But this amounts to ~3% of the total people actually eligible for VITA services. Only 3%!
We have the potential to reach thousands more families! A lot of people simply don't know that the VITA program exists or that they are eligible for this IRS-sponsored free tax preparation service.
Your donation will help us reach more community members in need and help them keep more of their hard-earned dollars.