Bookstein Institute

2019 Message from the Director

Rafi Efrat, Director, CSUN VITA Clinic

Rafi Efrat, Director, CSUN VITA Clinic

Celebrating its 49th year, the CSUN VITA Clinic once again broke records. Powered by a record 514 volunteers, the CSUN VITA Clinic provided free tax preparation to over 8,700 low-income taxpayers in Los Angeles County.

In all, we have helped taxpayers claim more than $10 million in tax refunds and $4.8 million in tax credits, and saved them over $1.8 million in tax preparation fees. The CSUN VITA Clinic site was ranked in 2019 as the No. 1 VITA site in Southern California (among 398 sites) and No. 2 in California among over 900 sites. Among academic institutions, CSUN VITA Clinic ranked once again as the largest in California (among 109 sites).

This year the CSUN VITA Clinic expanded its reach beyond the San Fernando Valley to 22 sites. From Jan. 28 through April 15, dedicated volunteers were available six days per week and up to 12 hours per day. Jointly, our volunteers invested more than 24,000 hours of service during this tax season, up more than 3,700 hours over last year.

This year we embarked on the exciting CSU5 Plus VITA Collaboration, providing the impetus to jointly serve over 14,000 taxpayers with the support of 850 student volunteers across the 11-campus collaborative.

In collaboration with the Los Angeles Veterans Administration and with vital support from Citi Community Development, the CSUN VITA Clinic built on the peer-to-peer free tax preparation services to veterans in Los Angeles County with nine veteran-dedicated sites.

A generous contribution from Wells Fargo Bank enabled us to integrate financial coaching, empowering low-income taxpayers by setting aside a portion of their tax refunds to save for long-term financial goals.

Financial help from City National Bank enabled integration of additional support services, including Spanish interpretation.

Our success was made possible by the dedication, commitment and hard work of our student volunteers. Thanks to the endowment created by Harriet and Harvey Bookstein two years ago, we recognized the exceptional work of 10 volunteers with $1,000 scholarships each.

I want to particularly thank and acknowledge the exceptional service provided by our clinic faculty: Professor Lucy Nalbandian; the Bookstein Institute Coordinator Sherry Manavi, VITA Clinic Coordinator Rodrigo de Moraes, and the rest of our leadership team, including Anna Hakopian, Francisco Peralta, Huy Nguyen, Ohannes Ordoghlian, Areli Araujo, Cynthia Montes, Eduardo Torres, Krystsina Taratutka, Danielle Uy, Robert Clark, Jesus Suarez and Manuel Martinez.

We look forward to next year with further expansion of our services in the community.