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Tax program offers free filing assistance for San Diegans

VITA program offers free income tax assistance for San Diegans

Income taxes are not something most of us want to think about, much less volunteer our free time for. But last year we had over 100 local volunteers sign up to do just that and we are hoping to have even more volunteers involved during the upcoming 2018 tax season. Volunteers go through sixteen hours of training to become certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to work in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, an initiative of the IRS that provides free income tax filing assistance to low and moderate income taxpayers. At the same time, the program also provides hands-on experience for Accounting and Business Administration students from local universities and a way to give back to the community for San Diegans who choose to volunteer.

In 2018, the IRC in San Diego’s VITA program volunteers filed over 3,450 tax returns resulting in over $5.5 million in refunds for local taxpayers, including over 3 million in Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), a valuable benefit for working families with children.

Professional, Free Tax Service

Filing taxes is a daunting task for most individuals, and for refugees and other new Americans who are unfamiliar with the system the process can be even more overwhelming. Unfortunately, the risk of falling victim to predatory services is a reality many of these families face. To avoid paying unnecessary fees and ensure proper filing, the IRC in San Diego recommends that taxpayers:

  • Visit a reputable tax preparation service, such as a VITA site.
  • Never have funds deposited into a preparers account. Some providers will ask clients to have the funds deposited to the preparers account so they can collect their fees and then distribute the rest to the client.
  • Always get a copy of the completed tax return, with their signature and the preparer’s information on it.
  • Be aware that tax fraud can cause immigration troubles in the future.

The VITA tax program is completely free and is staffed by trained and certified volunteers and IRC staff.

Eligibility and Appointments

For 2018, taxpayers who worked and earned $56,000 or less are generally eligible. Refugee status is not a requirement for this program. To find out if you are eligible for EITC click here. 


The IRC will be offering free tax preparation services at two locations now through April AND we are now working with Jewish Family Services to offer a third location for free tax preparation. See below for details. 

San Diego

International Rescue Committee City Heights

5348 University Ave., Ste. 205C

San Diego, CA 92105

Contact: +1 619 641 7510 x301

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10 am--4 pm 

Tuesday, Thursday 1 pm--7 pm


Jewish Family Service of San Diego

6160 Mission Gorge Road

San Diego, CA 92120

Contact: +1 858 637 3030

Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10 am--4 pm 

Tuesday, Thursday 1 pm--7 pm



El Cajon

International Rescue Committee El Cajon

131 E. Main Street, Suite 201

El Cajon, CA 92020

Contact: +1 619 440 6208 x246

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10 am--4 pm

Tuesday, Thursday 1 pm--7 pm


Taxpayers can check their eligibility and make an online appointment at www.myfreetaxes.org, using the search feature to select an IRC location.


How You Can Help

The IRC is now looking for volunteers for the upcoming 2018 program, and will be offering three exciting and impactful opportunities:

All of these positions are essential to the success of our program, and we encourage you to apply via the links below. For questions about the program in general please contact us at IRC.Tax [at] rescue.org and a member of our team will follow up with you. For questions about becoming a volunteer for the program please contact julia.hart [at] rescue.org (subject: Interested%20in%20VITA%20volunteering%20)

VITA Tax Preparation Volunteer

VITA 'Lead' Tax Preparation Volunteer

VITA Tax Program Liaison

VITA Tax Program Outreach Specialist


If you or your company is interested in supporting this valuable program that impacts the lives of thousands of San Diegans, please contact Laurel.Dalsted [at] rescue.org (Laurel.Dalsted)Laurel.Dalsted [at] Rescue.org (subject: VITA%20Tax%20Program%20Support) (@Rescue.org) or +1 619 641 7510 x242.

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