The 2019 tax season has come to an end, and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program at University of the West has completed its 12th consecutive year of service to the community. This program offers free tax assistance to individuals and families who earn less than $54,000, as well as people with disabilities, the elderly, and individuals with limited knowledge of English. During this year’s tax season, 18 IRS certified volunteers and students, under the guidance and direction of UWest’s VITA Program director Dr. Chi Sheh, worked throughout the tax season which ended on April 15th and were able to help 514 families file their taxes… all for free. As a result of these 514 tax filings, a total of $376,902 in total refunds were paid back to the pockets of taxpayers in our community.
While most of the service days were conducted at the University of the West campus itself, the VITA program also went to the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights to serve that community during a special tax day, in which 53 taxpayers were served. Internally, many faculty and staff of UWest were also helped by the service. One key factor for the success of our site was the variety of languages our volunteers could speak and provide help with, which was in seven different languages. This speaks to both the value of our diverse student body as well as the fact that our spirit of service can overcome any perceived boundaries.
If you are interested in serving as a volunteer in this valuable service to our community for next year, please visit the VITA Program website at: www.uwest.edu/vita/ and fill out the application form.