About Hawaii VITA
VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – a program that operates under the Internal Revenue Service and pursuant to which low-to-moderate income taxpayers can have their federal and state tax returns prepared and electronically filed for free.
The Hawaii VITA Program began in 2006 with 4 sites on Oahu and 32 volunteers. As of the last tax season (2016), we operated 53 sites Statewide and had 271 volunteers recruited from the community, other non-profits, for-profit organizations, and educational institutions. Volunteers are required to train and pass an IRS certification exam in order to prepare tax returns. Thus far, our amazing volunteers have helped 38,527 Hawaii residents save more than $7.3 Million in tax preparation fees. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or a partnering site, click here to learn more. If you are interested in our services, click here.
Financial Empowerment Solutions
In addition to VITA, this Program offers financial literacy education which focuses on an issue that is not included in most, if not all, financial literacy courses – the prevention of tax-related debt. Tax-related debt is a serious problem that can hinder any individual’s effort to achieve their financial goals and become self-sufficient. In 2014, 47,970 Hawaii residents who earned LESS than $50,000 owed the IRS $56 MILLION after filing their tax returns. This is NOT cumulative debt – this is debt for that one year and it happens every year.
As part of our educational efforts to prevent tax-related debt, we recruit and train high school students to become VITA volunteers through our “Learn Early. Live Smarter.” initiative. Simply by training, these students learn the basic tax concepts that will help them to avoid tax-related debt in the future and they gain a valuable skill (preparation of their own tax returns) that will help them to save money. Thus far, we have trained 171 high school students. Teachers and students – click here to learn more.
OUR MISSION is to increase individual wealth, vastly improve the ability of those who seek to achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency, and build stronger communities by:
(1) Providing free tax assistance to low-to-moderate income Hawaii residents in conjunction with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program of the Internal Revenue Service which saves taxpayers money while helping them to fulfill their federal and state obligations to file tax returns which serves the public interest.
(2) Providing educational workshops and material to the general public relating to financial literacy, with a focus on preventing tax-related debt which hinders the long-term success of current financial programs and interferes with the efforts of those who are striving to achieve self-sufficiency.