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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 the Fall followed by volunteering in Spring.
No previous experience or knowledge of taxes is required! Berkeley VITA is a year-long commitment!
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.
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.
Office Hours for Spring 2015 is TBD To meet with a director, please email email@example.com to make an appointment.
Berkeley VITA is a year-long commitment!
Note: VITA applications for 2014-2015 are currently closed. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you might be able to participate.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asian Resource Center (ARC)
310 8th St. Ste. 200
Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union
2001 Ashby Avenue
Catholic Charities of the East Bay
433 Jefferson Street
EBALDC – Sparkpoint
885 69th Ave.
Community Trust - A division of Self Help FCU
1350 7th Street
The Unity Council
1900 Fruitvale Ave Suite 2A
Lao Family Community Development Oakland
2228 East 15th Street
1918 University Ave. Suit 3A