Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

VITA

The VITA Program

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is a nationwide program founded in 1971 by Gary Iskowitz at CSU Northridge. Through VITA, our volunteers provide free tax filing services to low- to moderate-income earning individuals and families. Any person who has passed one of the IRS-sponsored VITA Certification Tests may volunteer.

Berkeley VITA is a student-led UC Berkeley Public Service Center program that partners with community centers and credit unions in the East Bay. The DeCal is held in Fall 2014 followed by volunteering in Spring 2015.

No previous experience or knowledge of taxes is required! Berkeley VITA is a year-long commitment!

 

Tax Preparation Services

 

Originally I thought VITA is just doing tax returns for people, but I learned that doing tax returns right can actually make an influence on people's lives. -Cal Student in VITA

Campus and Community

If you are a campus or community member and are looking for support to prepare your taxes, please take a look at our community partners. UC Berkeley's Student Legal Clinic has set up a site on campus and is available for appointments Monday-Friday. Find more information at the Student Legal Clinic.

 

Student Benefits

Students may be eligible for an additional $2,500 in education credits. Learn more about the American Opportunity Credit and other education credits at the IRS website.

 

Student Volunteers

Berkeley VITA is a year-long commitment!

Note: VITA applications for 2014-2015 are currently closed. Please contact ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com to see how you might be able to participate.

 

Fall 2014

Students attend a weekly 2-unit DeCal designed to prepare students to take and successfully pass the IRS-sponsored VITA volunteer Basic Certification Test. The DeCal incorporates readings and discussions about poverty, income inequality, and the public policies surrounding these issues. Training materials, including official IRS publications and software tutorials, will be provided to students for free. 

When: Thursday, 6-8 pm
Where: Moffitt 102
Starting: September 11, 2014 
Website/Syllabus: VITA DeCal 2014
 

Spring 2015

Students begin volunteer work at one of the local partnering VITA organizations in Berkeley and Oakland, and continue until the end of the tax season (April 15th). Students can receive 2 units for their volunteer work.

 

Alternative Breaks Merced Trip 2015

VITA will take interested volunteers to Merced during Spring Break to offer free tax return filing services in the Central Valley. Details regarding this trip will be released during the fall semester.

 

Application Process

The application for VITA 2014-15 will be available in mid- to late August of 2014. Deadlines will be released with the application. 

 

Contact

Email program managers Nona Penner and Judy Li at ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com

Learn more about VITA @ Earn It! Keep It! Save It! (EKS) -  http://earnitkeepitsaveit.org/

 

Established in 2010, Berkeley VITA aims to alleviate local poverty in the Alameda County through providing free tax services to low-income working families, with the focus of maximizing families’ disposable income. As a year-long program that includes a DeCal course in the fall, Berkeley VITA thrives on the concept of peer-to-peer learning and subsequently, the energy and efforts of its student volunteers.

 

In the spring of 2013, Berkeley VITA contributed 864 total hours in the tax season to file tax returns and serve our community. Working among eight VITA tax sites in the Alameda County, the program’s 48 student volunteers helped give back approximately $550,000 in tax refunds and credits to low-income families in the 2013 Tax Year alone. In our mission to extend the program’s impact on the local community, Berkeley VITA aims to continue to expand and foster tax education, community partnerships, and students’ personal growth on a grander scale each year. 


Lily Cheng

 

Nona Penner 

VITA Director of Public Policy Education Bonner Leaders Program
Class of 2016 Business Administration
 

How do you participate in the Public Service Center?

I am one of two program managers for the Berkeley Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and I also serve as a Bonner Leader. 2014-15 will mark my third year with Berkeley VITA and my second year leading the tax training DeCal. VITA provides free tax return preparation for low-income individuals and families at eight sites around the East Bay. Through the Bonner Program, I participate in Public Service Center group meetings to share experiences with other students involved with the Center.

 

What inspired you to get involved with the Public Service Center?

My first involvement with the Public Service Center was as a student volunteer for the Berkeley VITA Program in spring semester of my freshman year. At the time I was also taking Robert Reich’s Wealth and Poverty class, which really deepened my understanding of service. When the opportunity to become VITA’s Co-Program Manager arose, I was ecstatic to take my involvement with the program to the next level. I have been with Berkeley VITA and the wonderful Public Service Center community ever since.

 

What have you learned from your Public Service Center experience?

I think the biggest takeaway from my experience is the importance of community learning. There are many organizations within the Public Service Center that focus on a particular areas of interest and many external partner sites that serve a specific audience. What I have learned is that one group should not be expected to work independently but should be willing to exchange ideas with others to make an impactful change. This practice is something that I think the Public Service Center emphasizes and that its student leaders take to heart.

 

What is your favorite thing about the Public Service Center?

To me, the Public Service Center’s supportive atmosphere is what enables the programs and people within it to be so successful. That’s my favorite thing about it. The Public Service Center’s culture is very professional but also very caring—as a result, people are more inspired, more productive, and more connected to each other.

Our Community Partners

Berkeley VITA partners with community centers and credit unions in the nearby Berkeley and Oakland area. We are always looking to strengthen our current partnerships and form new ones. If you are a site looking to connect with us, please email ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com.

Asian Resource Center (ARC)

310 8th St. Ste. 200
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 287-5353

EBALDC

310 8th St. Ste. 200
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 287-5353

Catholic Charities of the East Bay

433 Jefferson Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 768-3100

EBALDC – Sparkpoint

885 69th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94621
(510) 969-8643

Community Trust - A division of Self Help FCU

1350 7th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 267-0450 x 305

People’s Federal Credit Union

1350 7th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 267-0450 x 305

Lao Family Community Development Oakland

2228 East 15th Street
 Oakland, CA 94606

San Antonio Community Development Corporation

2325 E 12th St.
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 533-8850

Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union

2001 Ashby Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94703
(510) 295-1657

The Unity Council

1900 Fruitvale Ave Suite 2A
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 535-6900

 

 


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