Since 2010, MEDA has been providing free tax preparation to the low- and moderate-income Mission community. This is done via the federal government’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free services to those who make under $53,000, persons with disabilities, the elderly and taxpayers with limited English-language skills.
This tax season, which ran from January 20th to April 15th, showcased more important numbers for our clients. There were 3,809 tax returns prepared for free during that three-month period. The impact? $4,530,329 returned to the community.
There were also 158 Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) prepared. An ITIN is a tax-processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with U.S. tax laws, providing a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security numbers. This is a vital service for some of our clients.
As part of Taxes Plus: Go Further with MEDA, 49 benefit applications were completed, 251 connections to asset-building services were made.
This Herculean effort was made possible by harnessing resources. There were 155 volunteers, 23 staff members who volunteered, nine tax staff and a pair of two-week temps—a true team effort.
One story to showcase the impact
Mission resident Minnie Wolford (photo, left) had been getting her taxes done at one of the four MEDA VITA sites for seven years. The loving daughter is the sole caregiver of her 96-year-old mother, who suffers from several ailments.
In the past, the government taxed the income Minnie received from federal and state programs to provide such care. Despite this fiscal reality, Minnie chose to continue to care for her parent, knowing she could offer the best attention to her mother’s needs.
MEDA knew of a new law enacted in February, meaning the IRS and the state of California no longer deem that money taxable income. The team had already prepared this year’s taxes, so they then did amended returns for three years back.
The result: $6,216 for this community member.
“This is a blessing,” thankfully states Minnie. “This will be a great help to my family.”
The City and County of San Francisco-Human Services Agency, United Way of the Bay Area, Bank of the West, Citi, Schwab and the U.S. Department of Education sponsored this year’s VITA program. Their support is invaluable in making possible our goal of community economic stability.
From MEDA and our 3,690 tax clients, we thank these sponsors for their generous support!