Tax season is here! And our VITA staff and certified volunteers are ready to help qualified candidates file their income taxes for free.
VITA is available by appointment only. Please call 510-535-6101 to make an appointment. Click here to learn more about the VITA program.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at The Unity Council has been providing free tax assistance to low-moderate income individuals and families for 15 years. This program is one of the most effective and direct poverty-fighting services in the nation. Last year our VITA program, with the assistance of 22 IRS-certified volunteers, helped over 850 people successfully file their income taxes, and dozens more with other tax related issues. The average adjusted gross income of the tax clients was $25,047.39, including those who file as single, married, and head of household, which is significantly lower than the area median income. This program helped working families save the money they earned, and connected them to savings strategies for future financial growth.
Last year our site helped to return $1,537,000 to low to moderate income families, with, the average tax client receiving a federal refund of $1,504. The VITA program helps all clients receive the benefits and credits entitled to them, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit, a cash-back credit aimed at giving low-moderate income working families and individuals a boost to their annual income.
The Unity Council fills a gap in tax-prep services in Oakland that specialize in working with immigrants and speakers of languages other than English. Last year, 73% of clients received services in a language other than English, including Spanish, Khmer, and Cantonese.
Although most of the VITA clients return year after year for tax services, many do not receive any additional services from The Unity Council. In an effort to better integrate the VITA program and other Unity Council programs, clients receiving tax services will now be surveyed for their interest in other programs like Head Start, employment/career services, and financial services, as well as being screened to receive help with public benefits.