Out and About: GSO Tacos and Taxes Spice Up Tax Prep
From parks and community college campuses to resource fairs and spring festivals, GSO staff and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers helped make filing taxes as local and as convenient as possible throughout Southern California.
We worked alongside our partners and helped thousands file their taxes for free by co-hosting events. Since some people can’t make it to permanent VITA locations, our free tax prep events meet community members where they are.
“So many folks don’t know that free tax preparation is a thing until events like Tacos and Taxes build awareness and bring VITA right to their backyards,” said Aram Ayra, GSO’s Inland Empire Organizer.
The average cost for paid tax preparation is $220. Some people must use their entire tax returns just to pay their preparers! Our events bring the community together and spread awareness to make sure that people can save their hard-earned money.
One of our most popular options this tax season was “Tacos and Taxes” where we provided free tacos from popular local food trucks, free tax preparation, and other valuable community resources at local community centers in Gardena, San Bernardino, Jurupa Valley, and Imperial. With smiling families, a festive atmosphere, and the smell of grilled food in the air, these community events often felt like a family cookout.
“It’s really exciting to see firsthand how life-changing tax credits and free tax prep can be. People are just ecstatic about saving money and receiving refunds without paying for a tax preparer,” added Aram.
We also provided free tax prep on an e-bus equipped with volunteers and mobile computers. This tax prep on wheels option served dozens of residents who hopped on board in front of the Southeast Rio Vista Family YMCA in Maywood. The e-bus made it possible to serve even more community members in under-resourced areas. Watch this video to learn more.
With the support of some amazing elected officials Senators Richard Roth, Steve Bradford, and Steve Padilla, Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes, and Assemblymembers Mike Gipson and James Ramos, we were able to create not only free tax prep assistance events but also include partners from the food bank, public health, credit unions and more to really engage the community and outreach for public benefits.
Next year, we’re looking forward to partnering with more elected officials and community organizations to reach even more people with free tax prep and public benefits.
Free tax prep services were provided by some of our outstanding Community Connect partners Eastmont Community Center, Watts Labor Community Action Committee, Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino, Community Action Partnership of Riverside, and Dreams for Change.
Find VITA services in your community here.