DPSS Employees Volunteer to Help Low-Income Residents.
Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) employee volunteers donated over a 1,000 non-paid hours to provide free tax preparation services for eligible CalWORKs and CalFresh customers as part of the annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.
The VITA program provides tax preparation services to DPSS customers who may qualify for the State and federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and child care credits that may help increase tax refunds and reduce the amount of taxes owed. Nearly $600 million in federal EITC is unclaimed each year by those who have earned and are eligible for the refund.
In February, the Board of Supervisors proclaimed “Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness” Week throughout Los Angeles County. “I am proud the County is taking proactive steps to ensure that those who qualify for this credit receive the financial relief they deserve. Hard work pays off and we are here to make sure our residents know that,” stated Supervisor Hilda Solis.
Each year, DPSS volunteers enthusiastically answer the call to provide free tax preparation services to low-income taxpayers. As part of VITA, volunteers are required to attend a three-day training led by retired Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax specialists and undergo a series of tests to become certified tax preparers.
On Saturday, February 4th, the DPSS Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) Program and Policy Section launched the VITA services at four offices. Although the final number will be provided at a later date, as of March 23rd, the 131 DPSS volunteers have served over 400 families.
Part of the success of the VITA Program was the convenience for taxpayers to schedule appointments by calling the DPSS Customer Service Center or online through the Department’s Your Benefits Now application system. Walk-in appointments were also welcomed before 11:00 a.m. at any of the participating GAIN Region offices.