The San Benito County Community Action Board (CAB) and Community Services & Workforce Development (CSWD) are partnering with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) for the fifth year to provide free Income Tax Assistance to San Benito County residents.
What is VITA? The VITA sites provide accessible location for taxpayers to get assistance in preparing their state and federal income tax returns. There is no charge to have returns completed and e-filed.
VITA Tax refunds totaled $262,845 for low-income San Benito County residents, of that $107,350 was an EITC refund.
Income Requirement: Any resident having an income below $53,000 is eligible to receive their FREE tax return completed at a VITA site. “In order to better serve our low-income community, we have expanded our outreach sites”, stated Deputy Director, Enrique Arreola, “Evening locations will accept walk-ins on a first come/first served basis without an appointment. We are very excited about the ability to expand service hours by making daytime appointments available at some locations.”
VITA tax preparer volunteers: All tax preparers at the site participate in classroom training, along with individual on-line study, in order to become fully certified before completing returns. The preparers are volunteers and typically receive no compensation for their service at the site.
Trino Serrano, CSWD staff and site coordinator for VITA, stated, “The program opened many doors for me. What started as an externship in Salinas, California, two years later I was given the opportunity to become the site coordinator and take part on a more hands on role in the San Benito County VITA program. Throughout my experience I have had a chance to develop and work on my one-on-one communication skills, working in groups, listening and definitely learning to be patient when it comes to working with the public. Taking part of the VITA program has been one of the best experiences; you meet new people, make new connections, and are exposed to tax knowledge, which can be beneficial to the everyday person.”
When asked why she volunteers, Robin stated, “The VITA program has taught me how to help the community by volunteering my time. In doing so, I’ve learned how to work with people, have patience and also how to use my listening skills. The VITA program gave me a good feeling about myself by giving back. I also learned a lot about the different forms people have to file and about the affordable care act. Thank you for the opportunity to volunteer."
What is EITC? Many county residents are unaware that they may be eligible for EITC and this is something the VITA volunteers are trained to identify.
For the 2014 tax year, 27.5 million taxpayers received about $66.7 billion in EITC. The average amount received nationwide last year was more than $2,400.
EITC is for workers whose income does not exceed the following limits in 2015:
- $47,747 ($53,267 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
- $44,454 ($49,974 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
- $39,131 ($44,651 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
- $14,820 ($20,330 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children
** Investment income must be $3,400 or less
Workers at risk for overlooking this important credit include those:
- Living in non-traditional homes, such as a grandparent raising a grandchild
- Whose earnings declined or whose marital or parental status changed
- Without children
- With limited English skills
- Living in rural areas
- Who are Native Americans
- With earnings below the filing requirement
- Who have disabilities or are raising children with disabilities
This year locations include the following:
- AJCC (Formerly One Stop Career Center)‐ 1111 San Felipe Rd. Suite #107, Hollister
- CSWD ‐ 1111 San Felipe Road Suite #108, Hollister
- San Benito County Library – 470 5th St, Hollister
- Mars Hill Coffee House – 610 San Benito Street, Hollister
- Mission Oaks – 1401 San Juan Rd., Hollister
- SJB Food Bank‐ 201 3rd St. Suite F, San Juan Bautista
- The Grange – 400 Rose Ave, Aromas
For a full list of hours and locations, visit our website at: www.sbccab.wix.com/cab1
What to bring with you
- photo identification
- social security cards for each member of the household and
- your income information (such as your W-2’s)
- last year’s tax return
- Your bank routing number and account number (to take advantage of direct deposit for any refunds.)
Spanish language assistance is also available.
No appointment is necessary. Returns are completed on a first come, first served basis.
For further program information, contact: Trino Serrano (831) 637-9293 or e-mail [email protected]