United Ways Throughout California Offer Free Tax Preparation Help to Working Families
Los Angeles, CA
March 16, 2011
As part of annual efforts to increase tax refunds and credits for low- and moderate-income families and individuals, California’s United Ways are operating and funding dozens of free community tax preparation programs and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout the state.
“With less than one month to go until state and federal income taxes are due, we want to make sure people are aware that free tax preparation help is available to those who need it,” said Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways of California. “Last year programs supported by California’s United Ways’ were responsible for the preparation of more than 132,700 tax returns, amounting to over $153 million in refunds for low – and moderate – income residents. We hope to surpass those numbers this year.”
VITA is partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and local partners and sponsors such as United Way. It provides free tax help to individuals and families earning less than $49,000 per year using trained, certified, volunteer tax preparers. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing. (List of United Way sponsored sites included below.)
VITA sites are an important way for low-income working families to learn about and access the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Each year, millions of low-income Californians miss out on the EITC because they don’t know they qualify or don’t know how to claim the credit. California’s Franchise Tax Board estimates that, annually, $1 billion in EITC goes unclaimed by California taxpayers. Last year, United Way’s VITA sites helped people apply for more than $53 million in EITC.
Manzo further said: “Increasing financial stability for all California residents is a primary goal for United Ways. VITA sites are important in achieving that goal. Not only do the sites give us a chance to put more money back in people’s pockets, but they are an opportunity for local United Ways to educate the community about other resources that may be available, such as job training programs, housing counseling and more.”
List of local United Ways sponsoring VITA sites this tax season:
Arrowhead United Way
United Way of the Bay Area
Empire United Way
United Way of Inland Valleys
United Way Way Monterey County
United Way of San Diego County
United Way of Santa Cruz County
United Way Silicon Valley
United Way of Ventura County
United Way of the Wine Country
(707) 528.4485 (Sonoma County)
(707) 528.4485 (Lake County)
(707) 367.2915 (Mendocino County)
(707) 443.8637 (Humboldt/Del Norte Counties)
United Ways of California improves health, education and financial stability results for low income children and families by enhancing and coordinating the community impact work and advocacy of over 30 California United Ways. Individually and together, California’s United Ways build a stronger California by mobilizing our communities' public, private and non-profit sectors through community engagement, public policy advocacy, research and results-based funding.