Free United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program Makes Tax Season Accessible for All

United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) is helping make this a successful tax season with multiple free, tax preparation centers now through April 17 for families and individuals who earned less than $66,000 in 2017.

UWSBC’s United for Financial Empowerment Partnership is offering the assistance centers during evening and day hours to accommodate as many residents as possible. Each Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location is staffed by trained, experienced, IRS-certified volunteers who provide free income tax return preparation and E-Filing to help residents receive their tax refunds that help improve financial stability.

“The assistance and advice from our amazing volunteers, many of whom have years of professional tax preparation experience through their careers, go well beyond tax season and help residents build long-term assets and reinforce their financial foundation,” said Steve Ortiz, UWSBC President & CEO. “We want to get residents their full tax refunds and get them started on a financially stable 2018.”

In particular, volunteers are looking to ensure that even more working families benefit from California’s recently-expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). What is new?

  • A parent with an income of $22,300 or less may benefit from the credit if they have one or more qualifying children. That means a parent working full-time at the state minimum wage of roughly $10 per hour could qualify.
  • Now, for the first time, those who earned self-employment income may also qualify for the credit. Both 1099 filers and cash earners qualify.

With the combined federal and state credits eligible families can get up to $6,000 back after filing their taxes. To get your tax credit, simply file your state and federal tax returns.  Search for a free tax preparation site, with IRS-certified tax preparers, or file online by visiting  

In 2017, more than 150 volunteers through UWSBC’s United for Financial Empowerment Partnership prepared more than 3,100 returns, securing more than $2.6 million in refunds for participants.

Tax preparation services will be available at the following VITA sites through April 17:

  • United Way (320 E. Gutierrez St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101) 1-5 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays
  • Santa Barbara High School (700 E. Anapamu St. Room 71, Santa Barbara, CA 93103) 3-6 p.m., Mondays (Closed March 26 and April 2)
  • Goleta Valley Community Center (5679 Hollister Ave., Goleta, CA 93117) 9 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m. Fridays
  • Franklin Neighborhood Center (1136 Montecito St., Santa Barbara, CA 93103) 6-9 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays
  • Police Activities League (1235 Chapala St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101) 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays (Closed March 31)
  • Santa Ynez High School (2975 E. Highway 246 Room E-1, Santa Ynez, CA 93460) 10 a.m.-2p.m. Saturday, March 10.
  • Carpinteria Children’s Project (5201 8th
    St. Room 312, Carpinteria, CA 93103) 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays
  • UCSB at Phelps Hall, Rooms 1517 and 1518, 1:30-4:30 p.m. March 9 and at the Student Resource Center (SRB) Computer Lab 12:30-3:30 p.m. March 11

For more information and a comprehensive list of VITA sites and operating hours, please visit 

About United Way of Santa Barbara County

United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has the unique and positive vision that “in our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own unique initiatives that involve dozens of local non-profit and public sector agencies. UWSBC’s local community driven Power of Partnership™ priorities help children, families & seniors with a focus on Education, Income and Health.

About the United for Financial Empowerment Partnership

United Way of Santa Barbara County’s United for Financial Empowerment Partnership is a community collaborative focused on increasing the financial stability among low-income families in Santa Barbara County. Partners: The Franklin Neighborhood Center, Westside Community Center, Montecito Bank and Trust, Dons Net Café, Santa Barbara Unified School District, AARP, Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, UCSB, UCSB’s Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP), UCSB VITA Club, Isla Vista Youth Projects, Police Activities League.

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