10 Years of Tax Assistance - Little Tokyo Service Center

10 Years of Tax Assistance

10 Years of Tax Assistance

Now having finished his tenth year volunteering with LTSC’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service, we had the chance to catch up with Byron Chan again since our last Volunteer Highlight of him in 2022. VITA pairs volunteers with low to moderate income filers for free tax preparation assistance. VITA volunteers also help low income filers take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), an underutilized tax credit that many are not aware of.

Click here to read more about how Byron first became involved with VITA!

A group of smiling volunteers in front of a Little Tokyo Service Center signDo you still see a lot of returning volunteers at VITA? Have there been many new faces lately?

I definitely see a lot of returning volunteers at VITA. In fact, getting to see returning volunteers is one of my favorite parts of participating in VITA every year. Each tax season feels like a reunion where I have the opportunity to catch-up with friends who I’ve gotten to know after volunteering together for several years. There are also many new faces every year, which comes with the exciting chance to make new friends!

What advantage does VITA provide low and moderate income people over the different online services that exist? (TurboTax, HR Block, etc)

I believe that VITA provides several advantages over different online services. First, VITA is free. Second, VITA allows for clients to personally meet with a tax preparer who can guide them through their tax returns. This personal experience allows clients to ask specific questions about their tax returns and for the tax preparer to provide guidance on different financial options available to clients that might not only impact their current tax return but also their future tax returns. In addition, conversations with clients sometimes lead to other opportunities to offer support and connect clients to other services that LTSC provides.

Now that you’ve reached 10 years of volunteering with LTSC VITA, how would you encourage someone who is considering volunteering with VITA for the first time?

I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone to volunteer with VITA. First, Gilda and Katherine are incredible leaders who make the volunteering experience seamless. They both offer patient support and work with tax preparers to feel confident in their work. Second, the group of volunteers are so fun to spend time with. The volunteers are welcoming and kind. Third, the clients we work with are incredible. I have many great memories of conversations with clients as they share life moments with me that are reflected in their tax documents ranging from college graduations to retirements. I sincerely enjoy learning about the backgrounds and lives of our clients. In fact, I am so happy to see clients who come back to VITA every year and sometimes clients even remember me!

Can you remember a specific time where someone told you about the impact your services were making in their life?

Every year, I work with at least one first-time client who is so happy that they are able to file their tax returns without paying a fee. Tax refunds are so important, but the burden of preparing your own tax return or paying someone to prepare your tax return can be both exhausting and expensive. So I’m so grateful to be a part of the VITA program that can provide some peace of mind to clients when tax season rolls around.

Is there anything more you can add about why volunteering with VITA is a rewarding experience for yourself?

Fundamentally, volunteering with VITA is a rewarding experience for me because of the relationships that it has allowed me to develop. Such rewarding relationships with clients and fellow volunteers make me excited to come back every year. Volunteering with VITA has also introduced me to the critical services that LTSC provides year round. I greatly admire the work of LTSC and I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a small contribution to that work through VITA.

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