Celebrating its 48th year, the CSUN VITA Clinic has once again broken records. Powered by 450 volunteers, the CSUN VITA Clinic has offered free tax preparation to over 7,500 low-income taxpayers in Los Angeles County.
This continued level of growth has positioned the CSUN VITA Clinic as one of the largest VITA sites in California. In all, we have helped taxpayers claim over $8.4 million in tax refunds and $3.5 million in tax credits and saved taxpayers over $1.1 million in tax preparation fees. The CSUN VITA Clinic site was ranked as the No. 1 VITA site in Southern California (among 389 sites), and No. 2 in California (among 976 sites). Also, among academic institutions, the CSUN VITA Clinic site was ranked No. 1 in California and No. 2 nationwide (among 474 academic institutions).
This year the CSUN VITA Clinic expanded its reach beyond the San Fernando Valley to 20 sites starting on Jan. 23 through April 18. The dedicated volunteers at the clinic were available to serve taxpayers six days per week and as many as 12 hours per day. Jointly our team of volunteers have invested 20,292 hours of service during this tax season, up more than 7,000 hours over last year. We also embarked on an exciting new initiative serving veterans. In collaboration with the Los Angeles Veterans Administration and with the bold support from Citi Community Development, the CSUN VITA Clinic developed several innovative features to improve outreach and engagement with veterans to secure their tax refunds and credits and enhance their financial resiliency.
Further, in collaboration with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and with the help of a generous contribution from Wells Fargo Bank, the CSUN VITA Clinic has integrated financial education, and one-on-one financial coaching to low-income taxpayers, with the aim of empowering them economically by setting aside a portion of their tax refunds and having them begin to save toward a long-term financial goal.
Also, with the financial help of City National Bank and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the CSUN VITA Clinic has been able to integrate additional support services, including Spanish interpretation at the various sites, as well as dedicated support for international students.
Our success would not have been possible but for the dedication, commitment and hard work exhibited by our student volunteers. With the help of the endowment created by Harriet and Harvey Bookstein last year, as well as other donors, we were able to recognize the exceptional work of 12 volunteers with $1,000 scholarships each.
The student volunteers’ unwavering devotion to the program’s cause and to the individuals who were served was truly laudable. 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 Francisco Peralta; and the rest of our leadership team, including Alejandra De La Torre, Gabriela Flores, Nancy Lopez, Jose Paguia, Jesus Suarez, Mario Brizuela and Erick Castillo.
We look forward to next year with further expansion of our services in the community, including the virtual tax preparation services we successfully piloted this year.