Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Initiative

The CSU5 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Initiative builds on an existing, well-established mechanism of collaboration of the CSU 5. The CSU 5 initiative is a collaboration among the five CSU campuses in the Los Angeles region aimed at creating a long-term, strategic, and innovative approaches to community development in the Los Angeles region. The CSU 5 campuses have been working to develop new areas of collective expertise that relate to the priorities shaping the future of Greater Los Angeles. The CSU 5 VITA initiative aims to further this collaboration by: a) helping low-income individuals and families file tax returns for free and get the Federal and  California Earned Income Tax Credit, b) providing students with professional experience while furnishing valuable community service, c) demonstrating the importance and social value of CSU campuses in local communities and throughout the regional economy, and d) leveraging individual campus strengths and create synergy by working together and generating  effects that will enhance VITA programs on each campus.

In addition, the CSU5 VITA collaborative model not only benefits the public that our student volunteers serve, but also offer tangible professional growth opportunities for many low income and/or first-generation college students enrolled in the 5-campus collaboration. By offering the student volunteers the opportunity to obtain initial training to become an IRS certified tax volunteer throughout college, the collaboration would position those same students to maintain continuous involvement with the VITA program as they complete their 4 year degree.  Such a mechanism establishes a reliable pipeline of experienced volunteers that has the promise of dramatically expanding the pool of tax preparer volunteers in our region, thereby increasing service and impact in our communities.

The goals of the CSU5 VITA initiative for the 2019 tax season are to deploy over 1,000 student volunteers and serve over 13,000 low income taxpayers in over 35 sites in Los Angeles County.