Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program


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!

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 4, 2014 (Tentatively)
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. 



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 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

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

Catholic Charities of the East Bay

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

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

San Antonio Community Development Corporation

2325 E 12th St.
Oakland, CA 94601

The Unity Council

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

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

The online application for the Berkeley VITA DeCal will be made available in mid-August on the DeCal website. Deadlines will be released with the application.

Please note that by signing up for the class, you are committed to volunteering in spring semester as well. To be placed on our mailing list for the application release date, email ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com

Click here for more information regarding Alternative Breaks

VITA Alternative Break Participant Application 2014-2015

Application Deadline: TBD App will be available mid-sept

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

Questions?  Contact us at ucberkeleyvita@gmail.com



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