Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program


The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program at UC Berkeley provides free income tax return preparation to low income working families in the East Bay. UC Berkeley VITA is a year-long program that allows student volunteers to learn about current issues on income inequality and poverty, and beneficial tax policies.

This year, we project that the VITA program will process $1 million dollars in tax refunds and credits for East Bay residents.


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 $2500 in education credits. Learn more about the American Opportunity Credit and other education credits at the IRS site.


Our Community Partners

Asian Resource Center (ARC)

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

Brighter Beginnings

2595 International Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94601
(877) 427-7134

Catholic Charities of the East Bay

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

Community Housing Development Corp

1555 Fred Jackson Way
Richmond, CA 94801
(510) 412-9290 x212

Community Trust - A division of Self Help FCU

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

Lao Family Community Development Oakland

2228 East 15th Street
 Oakland, CA 94606

Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union

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


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

EBALDC – Sparkpoint

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

People’s Federal Credit Union

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

North Berkeley Senior Center

1901 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 981-5190

San Antonio Community Development Corporation

2325 E 12th St.
Oakland, CA 94601


Student Volunteers


Student Volunteers
Fall 2013

Students attend a weekly DeCal designed to prepare students to take and successfully pass the IRS sponsored VITA volunteer certification test at the basic level. The DeCal also incorporates reading and discussion into the topics of poverty, income inequality, and public policies surrounding these issues. Students receive 2 units from the DeCal.

When: Mondays 6-8 pm
Where: Moffit 101
Starting: September 9, 2013
Website: VITA DeCal 2013 (link to decal.org/courses/2811)
Spring 2014
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. Students can receive 2 units for their volunteer work.
Alternative Breaks Merced Trip 2014
VITA will take a dozen volunteers to Merced during Spring Break to offer filing services in the central valley. Details about this program will be released during the fall semester.
Application Process
The application for VITA 2013-14 will be available in mid- to late August of 2013. Deadlines will be released with the application. 
Email Nona and Simin at ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com.
Learn more about VITA @
Earn It! Keep It! Save It! (EKS) -  http://earnitkeepitsaveit.org/

Established in 2010, VITA at UC Berkeley 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, VITA@Berkeley thrives on the concept of peer-to-peer learning and subsequently, the energy and efforts of its student volunteers.

In the spring of 2012, each student volunteer donated an average of 35 hours during the tax season to file tax returns and give back to the community. Working among seven VITA tax sites in the Alameda County, the program’s 52 student volunteers helped to give back approximately $600,000 in tax refunds and credits to low-income families in the 2012 Tax Year alone. Continuing to extend the impact on the local community, VITA at UC Berkeley has grown to 70 student volunteers this fall and projects over $800,000 in tax refunds for the 2012 Tax Year.

Lily ChengLily Cheng ’11 (History)
VITA Program Manager,
Bonner Leaders Program


How do you participate in the Public Service Center?

I am the Co-Program Manager of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and a Bonner Leader at Berkeley.  We do free tax preparation for low-income and immigrant families at ten VITA sites around the East Bay and have around 70 student volunteers.  We also started a DeCal to teach and provide training to students for IRS certification.


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

I did Cal in Local Government and through that I found it really helpful to have a community of people, leaders, organizers, and managers talking together about similar issues across different situations, which is really representative of the Public Service Center in general.  After Cal in Local Government, I took a class on wealth and poverty where we learned about the tax credit system, and after a Public Service Center staff member proposed the idea to run VITA, I jumped at the chance. 


What have you learned from your Public Service Center experience?

The main thing I’ve learned is the power of partnership, not just with the community, but with each other.  It humbles me to realize the magnitude of the issues and the power of change coming from other people.  My program may be a drop in the ocean, but that’s okay because that means ten students who didn’t know about VITA or poverty know about it now.  The UC Berkeley Public Service Center taught me joining and working together is the best way to make change happen.


What is your favorite thing about the Public Service Center?

I’ve really enjoyed the support of the Public Service Center, especially with other student leaders.  You have staff to check in with who care about you, not just the work you’re doing.  It’s cool we can talk about the power of partnership, collaboration, accountability, and the ways that changes are happening every day.  Having the support structure of UC Berkeley really helps, because it legitimizes the work you do.

Our Community Partners:

EBALDC -  Asian Resource Center

310 8th St #200


Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 287-5353

EBALDC - SparkPoint

7200 Bancroft Avenue, Suite 124

Oakland, CA 94605


Catholic Charities of the East Bay

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


Community Trust Credit Union


1432 7th St

Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 267-0450

The Unity Council

1900 Fruitvale Ave

Oakland, CA 94601

(510) 535-6900


  2. 1918 University Ave #3a, Berkeley, CA 94704
    (510) 540-7785


Go to the main VITA site.

Welcome to the application to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

We will be accepting applications for the VITA Alternative Break until Friday, October 25 at 11:59pm. After reviewing applications we will notify you of our decision via email on Friday, November 1. If you have questions please contact us at ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com.

Click here for more information regarding Alternative Breaks


VITA Alternative Break Participant Application 2013-14

Application Deadline: Friday, October 25, 2013 by 11:59 pm *Strict deadline enforced

All students with any immigration or citizenship status are welcome to apply!

Questions?  Contact us at ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com

Participant Commitments and Responsibilities:

While on the service trip, all participants are expected to adhere to trip guidelines, participant agreements, and Break Leader decisions. Post-trip, volunteers are required to create a scrapbook page as well as get involved in a service/art project at UC Berkeley. Students are also invited to participate in an optional 6-8 hours of service locally after the trip. 

 Time Commitments

  • Attend All-Participant Meeting - November 13, 2013, 6-8 pm (Location TBD)

  • Spring 2013 DeCal, Wednesdays 6-8 pm

  • Service-Learning Trip, March 22 - 28, 2013

Financial Commitments

  • Pay a participant fee of $100. (These fees cover housing, transportation, and food for the entire week. An initial non-refundable deposit of $30 will be due at the first all-participants meeting). Paid trip fees are non-refundable.

  • Meet an additional minimum fundraising commitment of $70 that will cover the remaining participant fee.

  • Participants are required to participate in all fundraising activities to make trips possible. 

​Participant Stipends

  • Students with any financial need are strongly encouraged to apply for stipends to help pay for the cost of the trip. Applying for stipends does not affect your chances of participating in Alternative Breaks.

  • Participants awarded stipends will not have access to the stipend until they pay their $30 non-refundable deposit, which is due on the 13th of November.

  • Participants are eligible for stipends regardless of immigration or citizenship status. 

  • Stipend Applications must be completed and submitted by October 29th at 11:59pm. 
    • The following Financial Aid documents must be emailed to ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com or turned into Rajelin Escondo at the Public Service Center office:
      • 20130-2014 Financial Aid Award Offer Letter and Student Aid Report (SAR)
      • AB 540 affidavit [if applicable]
      • Most recent unofficial transcript

Personal Commitments

  • Agree and adhere to trip guidelines and participant agreements.

  • Uphold No Alcohol and No Drug policy for all activities related to Alternative Breaks.

  • Fill out and turn in all trip safety and liability forms. 

Selection Timeline

  • Application Deadline: October 25, 2013 by 11:59pm

  • Decisions: By November 1, 2013

  • All-Participants Meeting: November 13, 2012, 6-8 pm



Please do NOT click "submit" until the entire application is complete!

Incomplete applications will NOT be read!


First Name Last Name
Email Phone
SID: Expected Graduation Year:
Hometown: What is your residential status?
What is your major:
What year are you in college?
Are you a first-generation college student, meaning your parents, guardians, or grandparents did not attend college?

How did you hear about this program?
Racial or ethnic identity (optional):


If you selected "other", or would like to provide details about your race/ethnicity, please do so:

What languages do you speak other than English? Would you like to subscribe to the Public Service Center's monthly newsletter that lists community events, service and leadership opportunities, scholarships, and more?

The Public Service Center is committed to raising funds for those who need it. Please share your financial aid status with us to help us make this happen. (Please check all that apply.)

Not Eligible for Financial Aid:
Financial Aid Eligible:<-- 65% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid
Work-Study Eligible:
Pell Grant Eligible:

Please check this box if you would like to be considered for a stipend.

Please indicate whether you live in the Residence Hall, a co-op or are a member of a Fraternity or Sorority.

Are you 21 and are willing and able to serve as a driver for the group?


T-Shirt Size 

Dietary Needs/Preferences:

Did you have or will you have at least basic tax certification by the time of this trip?

Where did you receive your tax training?

Personal Statement

Question #1: What does "social justice" mean to you? (250 words max)


Question #2: Explain your interest in Alternative Breaks, specifically regarding the VITA AltBreak you are most interested in. Include what you hope to learn and gain from your participation in the Alternative Breaks program, and how you will use these lessons and skills towards advocating for social justice in your future. (250 words max)

Question #3: Please list any personal qualities or experiences (academic, service-related, work-related, etc.) you have that are relevant to your first and second trip preferences or the program as a whole. Please note that previous experience is not a requirement; participants with little experience and lots of passion are equally desired as those with lots of experience. (250 words max)


I have read all participant responsibilities and agree to these conditions if selected for a spring 2013 Alternative Breaks trip.

I have completed all required fields and answered all questions in the personal statement.

Before you submit your application, make sure all required fields have been completed. We will NOT review applications that are incomplete. Questions can be directed to ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com.




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