Non-Profit, VITA, Helps People in Bakersfield with Taxes for Free

You probably know that if you make more than $10,000 a year you have to pay taxes.  What you may not know is that VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Association) will do your taxes for free if you make $60,000 or less a year.

"VITA is a program that was actually established by the IRS many, many years ago to help lower and moderate income families access the earned income tax credit, Jill Egland, Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of Kern County said. 

"It's a great program especially in places like Kern where we have an incredible number of families who qualify, but are not accessing their earned income tax credit.  So, in essence our community is leaving millions of dollars on the table every year."

Not only will VITA not charge you for their tax service but they may also be able to help you get money back from the IRS.

"The earned income tax credit for some families they're getting $4,000 and $5,000 back,” Egland said.  "When you add on the California earned income tax credit, we've had families so far this year who have gotten $7,000 and $8,000 back.  It's transformative for people who are barely getting by."

Yearly, VITA goer Eleonor Segura thinks going to VITA is a no-brainer.  

"VITA volunteers are honest, helping working people, they're here to assist you and they're not being paid for this. Why wouldn't you want to come here?"  Segura said.

Segura says VITA can be especially helpful to people who may get taken advantage of by tax businesses.

"I feel that sometimes those people are kind of taken advantage of," Segura said.  "If you go to someone you're paying to do your taxes, they're like charging you a ridiculous amount, like a fee and they don't understand that. I think especially those people need to come to a place like this."

VITA visitors like the honesty, helpfulness and overall speed of the non-profit volunteers.

"You don't really have to wait that long,” April Hopson said.  "It's free and (there's) a lot of tax people out there that actually charge too much money."  "I didn't have to keep going back and forth with a representative," VITA goer Isaac Lopez said.  "They just got my information, I was in and out."

Taxes are usually due by April 15th, but because the 15th lands on a Friday this year, the IRS extends the deadline to Monday.  "A lot of people will procrastinate with it and they don't realize that whenever they do that if something's wrong with their return or they miss, let's say for instance they come in and they forget a W2 and they realize this a week after they've done their taxes and they filed on the 15th, well now they're going to be late and so it is a penalty,” Chris Bodirsky, VITA Site Coordinator said.  "So, we really stress for them to come in before the last day."

VITA is available at different locations throughout the week and throughout Kern County.  For information on VITA you can go to United Way Of Kern County - United Way Of Kern County.

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