About Hawaii VITA and Financial Empowerment Coalition
Hawaii VITA and Financial Empowerment Coalition, which began as a pilot program at Aloha United Way in 2005, became a part of the Hawai`i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED) in July of 2009.
Hawaii VITA has four major objectives:
1. to provide and expand free tax assistance services to low-to-moderate income workers by recruiting, supporting, and coordinating the efforts of organizations that are willing to participate in the free tax assistance program.
Reason: The average taxpayer saves over $150 by using a free tax assistance site and is protected
from predatory lending products such as “Refund
2. to conduct outreach to increase the public’s awareness of the availability of free tax assistance services and valuable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Reason: It has been estimated that eligible taxpayers fail to claim over $41 million in Earned Income Tax Credits every year. Since most low income workers use their refunds to purchase goods and services,this failure to claim the EITC results in a multi-million dollar loss in revenue for local businesses and a corresponding loss of general excise tax revenue to the State of Hawaii every year.
3. to conduct continuing recruitment of volunteers willing to work at free tax assistance sites.
Reason: Free tax assistance services are provided primarily by volunteers. The FISSP began with and still has only one paid full-time position.
4. to directly link the free tax assistance program to financial literacy and asset-building efforts in orderto help taxpayers learn how to better use the money that they earn and that they receive as refunds to get rid of debt and to begin asset building.