Appreciating Amazing VITA Volunteers Across California - United Ways of California

Appreciating Amazing VITA Volunteers Across California

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Read time: 3 minutes

This Volunteer Appreciation Month and as we near the tax filing deadline, we wanted to take a moment to thank the amazing VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteers who make free tax help possible each and every year across California.

Last tax year alone, the California VITA network ran on the amazing work of 2,895 VITA volunteers!

VITA relies on the generosity and dedication of IRS-trained community volunteers to provide free tax help to eligible families across the country.

This free help—provided both in-person and virtually—is a critical component of the United Ways of California and our California United Way network’s work to increase financial stability for families across the state, from San Diego to Redding and everywhere in between.

With the average tax return through a paid preparer costing $350, in 2023, California VITA volunteers saved their community members $29.9 million by filing more than 85,000 federal tax returns (and nearly as many state returns) for free – in addition to helping those community members access tax credits they were eligible for, putting even more money directly back in people’s pockets.

Here are snapshots of just a few of these amazing volunteers:

While studying accounting at Cal Poly in 1969, Bob was encouraged by a teacher to get involved with VITA, and he became one of our country’s first VITA volunteers! Now retired from the IRS, Bob volunteers for VITA in Santa Barbara County because he loves to help people and see the smiles on their faces. “Tax returns help people more than we think. We can see this when they come back year after year.”Eunice volunteers a lot in her community. When the Asian American Senior Citizens Services Center in Santa Ana opened a new VITA site this year, Eunice jumped on board. She appreciates how she can make a quick impact through the program. “You help someone to get their taxes filed and, even if they owe money, it’s one item that is off their to-do list. It just makes me happy that I accomplished something that they need done.”

Emily found out about VITA when she was a college student. After working in private accounting for a while, when she was looking to give back to the community, she started volunteering with VITA in Ventura County. “Hearing how grateful people are for the program, and how helpful it is especially for those that are in hard spots in their life, is why I come back.”

Paul has been volunteering with the Orange County United Way for about six years. “It’s a great mission. I have always received lots of thanks from our clients, our taxpayers.” This year, he even brought his teenage son, who helped with client intake.

Alexis is a passionate advocate in Los Angeles who gives back to her community and loves to help others, especially current and former foster youth. “I really love supporting people through the free process, helping them understand their taxes, and showing them how to do it.”

Sandra was a grateful VITA client who wanted to help others in Monterey County access and take advantage of this important service. In addition to sharing about VITA with her community network, Sandra became a VITA volunteer this tax season. “I can see their big smile as soon as they find out they’re getting a refund. I’m glad to be able to help.”

Wei, Allison, and Shan are graduate students studying business at UC Irvine. They saw a call for VITA volunteers on their school campus and jumped at the opportunity to use their academic and career interests to make a difference. “Not only do we help others, but we learn a lot of information about how to prepare tax returns,” Wei said. “It’s also improved our professional skills.”

On behalf of our entire United Way network and California communities across the state, thank you to all of our fantastic VITA volunteers across California! You empower families through free tax prep, and we couldn’t do this critical work without you.

Interested in becoming a VITA volunteer? Let us know!

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