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Tax Preparation Program Doubles Results, Wins National Merit Award

The Housing Authority of the city of Santa Barbara will honor its volunteers for helping 900 low-income filers.

The Housing Authority of the city of Santa Barbara will hold a ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday to honor its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance volunteers and to celebrate the program’s outstanding success this tax season.

This was the Housing Authority’s sixth straight year of assisting in the free preparation of income tax returns for low-income earners in the Santa Barbara community, including Housing Authority residents.

This year, the Housing Authority’s two VITA centers, at its Family Opportunity Center on the Lower Westside and at its Paseo Voluntario Learning Center on the Eastside, assisted more than 890 people — more than twice as many as last year — with more than 890 tax returns filed and were able to secure more than $800,000 in total refunds.

The dinner and awards presentation will be at the Housing Authority’s Villa La Cumbre property, 521 N. La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara.

The VITA program offers free income-tax preparation and filing in English and Spanish to low-income families, seniors and the disabled with annual earnings up to $39,783. In addition, the program helped individuals claim any tax credits they were entitled to for the 2007 tax year.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, the top national housing organization, has awarded the Housing Authority’s VITA program a National Award of Merit. The program also has been nominated for a National Award of Excellence. The 2008 awards will be announced and presented at NAHRO’s Summer Conference July 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn.

“Tuesday’s ceremony will honor those who played a vital role in the VITA program and whose continued efforts and support helped the Housing Authority of the city of Santa Barbara reach out to the community,” CEO and Executive Director Rob Pearson said.

Pearson will present awards to volunteers and supporters who were essential to the success of the program this tax season. 

This year, trained volunteer tax preparers from local nonprofits and businesses included: the Housing Authority of the city of Santa Barbara, the Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency program, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Women’s Economic Ventures, Santa Barbara City College, UCSB, Housing Authority residents, private citizens and the Internal Revenue Service

As in years past, the Housing Authority’s Income Tax Preparation Centers are a collaborative effort. The Housing Authority provided the supervision, staff, location, Internet access, materials and supplies for the tax centers. The IRS provided the training, software and technical support, and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust provided computers and hardware. KMPR-TV, the Univision television affiliate for Santa Barbara County, as a public service to the community aired a series of “tax tips” provided by the Housing Authority and the IRS, and held a live “taxathon” where Housing Authority VITA program staff and volunteers answered tax questions from the public during a newscast.

The Housing Authority is a local public agency created for the purpose of providing safe, decent and quality affordable housing and supportive services to eligible people with limited incomes, through a variety of federal, state, local and private resources. Click here for more information.

Daniella Elghanayan of SurfMedia Communications represents the Housing Authority of the city of Santa Barbara.


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