VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Free Tax Service

The Dons Net Café offers a free tax service called VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Low-income individuals or families can come to us to file their tax returns for free! We also paper file for people who have or need ITIN's (Individual Tax Identificaiton Numbers).  *see press release below for more in-depth info and help with EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit).

We are proud to say that were the FIRST high school in the nation that was awarded an EFIN (allows us to file to Ogden, Utah) number by the IRS.


The SB United Way purchased 2 laptops and supplies for our VITA site this year.  We could not have made it without you.  Thank you Paul Didier and Angela Wallace for your patience and help from all of us and the community members you helped.  Pic to the right is CATALYST Katherine Gray helping a return tax "customer" in the middle of a busy tax season.

The following picture is of our very own IRS agent Bob Corera.  Bob and Ms. B. started VITA when many thought teenagers could not do it!  We are now in our 15th year!  We do an average of 600 returns per year.  Bob is shown here with alumni Jerry Wei who now does VITA @ Yale! Our students have an amazing 91% scholarship rate!

   Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Dons Net Café has been saving its community thousands of dollars by preparing taxes for free. This site has been operating for over fourteen years and has been referred to as “the best practice model to be emulated for quality and utility” by the Los Angeles branch of the Internal Revenue Service. We have been recognized in a plethora of press releases and websites such as: (on the home page today of Tax Resolution's Blog
The community benefits tremendously from our program. Students, homeless, low-income families, and many others seek our site for tax help. All returns are prepared with confidentiality, courteousness, and without charge. Our site also aids non-citizens by helping with ITINs (Individual Tax Identification Numbers). By paying taxes, immigrants have a better chance at attaining citizenship.
We also help students with the attainment of valuable knowledge that they will need later in life. These students are also given community service hours and are guaranteed scholarships and valuable job opportunities.
This week V.I.T.A. members are getting to know their brand new text books. The IRS recently sent us a huge supply of publications to be used for teaching tax law. This Monday, Ms B and I used one of the new text books to teach about Interview and Intake sheets. Next week I plan to teach the volunteers about dependency tests by utilizing the flow charts in one of the new text books. Soon, volunteers will be taking their tests in order to qualify for federal certification. Study your books and notes over Winter break, students!


Press Release

People who work but don’t earn a lot of money may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as free help preparing their tax return. Today (Jan. 30) marks EITC Awareness Day, a nationwide effort to increase public awareness about EITC and free tax preparation sites.

IRS estimates that 20 to 25 percent of eligible taxpayers fail to claim the credit which could put as much as $4,824 into the pockets of a family with two children, or send as much as $2,917 to a family with one child, or up to $438 for a worker with no children. The Earned Income Tax Credit is the federal government’s largest program benefiting lower earning workers.

“The extra dollars eligible taxpayers can get through EITC can make their lives a little easier,” said Bob Correa, Retired Internal Revenue Service, “but they must file tax returns, even if they aren’t required to file, and claim the credit to receive it.”

Correa said some individuals and families may qualify for the credit for the first time because of unemployment or other changes in their financial, marital or parental status during the past year.
Taxpayers with the earnings of or below $38,646 ($41,646 if married filing jointly) for families with two or more children; $33,995 ($36,995 married filing jointly) for families with one child or $12,880 ($15,880 married filing jointly) if there are no children should check to see if they qualify.

The EITC is a valuable but complex tax break. Free help is available to determine eligibility and file to claim the credit at volunteer tax assistance sites.  People should come prepared with the following items:
• Valid driver's license or photo identification (self & spouse, if applicable)
• Social Security cards for all persons listed on the return
• Dates of birth for all persons listed on the return
• All income statements: Forms W-2, 1099, Social Security, Unemployment, or other benefits statements, self-employment records and any documents showing taxes withheld
• Dependent child care information: payee’s name, address and SSN or ITIN
• Proof of account at financial institution for direct debit or deposit (i.e. cancelled/ voided check or bank statement)
• Prior year tax return (if available)
For help contact:
Dons Net Café-Santa Barbara High School Phone:805.963.8597
700 E. Anapamu St. Room 22-Santa Barbara

 Se Habla Español !

We officially signed up to dedicate our VITA tax site to Martin Luther King on his day.  We signed up on and had members of the community come in and we discussed how we could help people in our community attain ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Numbers) so that they can become citizens.  We're talking about students that have been educated in the US and our neighbors who have been working and living in the US before the immigration scare began.  We have met with Senator Gloria Armero two times about this and we are worried about our own students who have a dream of continuing their education and having a good life.  Who thought doing taxes would open so many other questions?


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