Earn It! Keep It! Save It! (EKS) is a Bay Area coalition providing free tax preparation to low to moderate income families and individuals, but there are thousands of struggling households that are missing out on these free services. Join the EKS coalition, and you’ll help us reach thousands of people in need the Bay Area!
The Need: Over 700,000 people are living below the federal poverty level in the Bay Area.
The Goal: Help an additional 500 households with their taxes next tax season!
Become a Community Intake Site and here’s what you’ll do:
As a Community Intake Site, your clients will come to you to have their taxes prepared. You will walk them through an intake process, including screening them for eligibility, ensuring they have all their tax documents and uploading their information to a secure cloud storage. You will make an appointment for your client to return to sign and pick up their tax return, most likely within a week. You will not prepare tax returns.
And your clients will thank you…
- Last year, the average income of taxpayers served through EKS was $22,000.
- Additionally, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the most effective anti-poverty program in the country – lifting 6.5 million people out of poverty in 2015. The credit can be over $6,000 for a family of 5, but millions of dollars still go unclaimed! You’ll help clients claim this and other valuable credits.
- For each tax return our volunteers prepare, we are saving a family an average of $200.
How will it work?
Who is eligible for this free tax preparation service?
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a national IRS program. Volunteers are trained and certified to prepare basic tax returns. We can prepare returns for taxpayers with self-employment income and Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN). Most clients that seek our services have very simple tax returns. There are some returns we cannot prepare. Those include returns with rental income, returns for people who lived outside of California, self-employed taxpayers with expenses greater than $25,000 and other special tax situations.
Where will Intake Sites be located?
Community Intake Sites will be located in underserved areas, creating additional access points for the households in need. Underserved areas include high EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) eligible zip codes and areas with little or no free tax preparation services nearby.
When should we provide the intake service?
Hours of operation are flexible, but we recommend being available to the public throughout the week to do intakes. Estimate that each intake will take 15-20 minutes. Hint: Consider when your clients are coming in for your other programs and services to determine your schedule.
Who will do this at my organization and what do they need?
You can use volunteers or staff to collect taxpayer information at your Intake Site. Each person conducting an intake must take a 10-question multiple choice exam in IRS VITA Standards of Conduct/Ethics. This person should be comfortable interacting with clients in a professional manner and asking for private information. Lastly, they must have access to the equipment necessary to upload taxpayer documents. UWBA will provide training on the Standards of Conduct/Ethics, Intake Site procedures, VITA eligibility criteria, proper intake and interview techniques, and the cloud storage technology.
How will United Way support the Community Intake Sites?
United Way Bay Area will:
- Provide licenses/access and training for the “cloud technology”
- Train Intake Sites throughout the Bay Area
- Provide scanner/printer equipment to Intake Sites if needed
- Provide procedural manuals and tools for intake
- Ensure compliance with IRS VITA program procedures and requirements
More information about EKS
During the 2017 tax season, community volunteers prepared over 72,000 tax returns at 200+ locations, returning over $75 million in tax refunds to these households and the community. Since 2003, our volunteers and partners have prepared over 700,000 tax returns. Our coalition serves Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties.
Let’s do this! We’re ready to commit as an intake site!
Please email your United Way contact if you’re interested in joining our group of intake sites!