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MyFreeTaxes.org Helps Community Members Access Life-Changing Tax Credits
VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) is a program run throughout the state with the help of volunteers who are trained and certified by the IRS. Everyone who works at a VITA site is not only trained and certified by the IRS, but they go through extensive training to help clients maximize their refund.
United Way is committed to helping people file their taxes for free. We do this by offering three different free filing options including:
- In-person help at a VITA site
- Virtual help through GetYourRefund.org
- Self-filing with safe no-cost software
Read on to see the impact VITA is making on California communities in action, and learn why we’re working to expand more of these critical services across the state.
Alexandria W. is a recent college student from the Sacramento area who works as an in-home care provider. She had her taxes done at the Woodland Community Center, which is a long running VITA site about 20 minutes away from Sacramento.
Alexandria has previously gone to H&R Block which she said, “was pretty pricey.”
With the cost of California living continuing to get higher, Alexandria wanted to ensure that she could maximize her refund. She shared that her refund will help her with some everyday expenses.
“With the gas and prices on everything going up, an extra bit of money to get through the day helps. My refund also allows me to put money towards savings.”
Lilly M. had her taxes done at the United Way Kern County Office in Bakersfield. She describes her experience as being thorough and efficient.
“I enjoyed my experience getting my taxes done with VITA. They were clear and very concise with everything every step of the way with no problems,” she shared.
“Some of us are just learning how to file. It is beneficial to all to have experienced person there to assure us that we are doing things correctly. Everyone should utilize VITA to help assist us in furthering our goals to push forward for a better life.”
Debbie S., a retiree from Sonoma County, has been utilizing VITA for over 10 years.
Debbie talked about the stress that comes along with doing your taxes every year. She appreciates services like VITA who not only help her file for free, but help reduce the anxiety that comes along with tax filing.
“I really appreciate the help that I get from United Way. Very much. It’s an emotional time getting your taxes done! And they help me feel comfortable.”
With the rising costs across California, living as a retiree comes with additional challenges. In fact, even though the median income in Sonoma County is almost $100,000, 26% of people in the county don’t make enough to cover their daily expenses. (Real Cost Measure, 2021).
“It’s nice to not have to come and pay to do your taxes when you’re on a limited income,” Debbie shared. I have bills to pay. PG&E, car insurance, renter’s insurance, rent. It all went up.”
Alexandria, Lilly, and Debbie are just three of thousands of Californians eligible for free tax filing assistance through VITA every year. However, our state is in critical need of additional resources to better reach other filers who could benefit from the program.
Want to help us expand VITA services?
Raise your voice and urge your legislators to pass critical policies to increase funding across the state.