San Jose's Sacred Heart offers tax assistance for the low-income
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The fast-approaching tax deadline is actually April 18th this year due to a holiday. A San Jose non-profit, Sacred Heart Community Service, is hoping to help low income families file, free of charge.
In hard times, Maria Luisa Palafox had gotten food here. Once, she'd gotten help with her power bill.
What she didn't realize, was that Sacred Heart could also help with her taxes.
"It's like oh my god, they always have an answer to my prayers," says Palafox.
It's a service called VITA, which stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Basically, the IRS trains volunteers to help low-income individuals with their taxes and the service is free.
Benson Lai, who is in marketing by trade, has been helping out here for the last five years.
"If you give them money in the bank, that's definitely a benefit right there," says Lai.
At Sacred Heart, they've helped 1,100 people with their taxes so far this year, getting them $1.6 million in refunds.
Lai recalls one man's reaction, "I asked him why do you look so relieved? And he told me that having this refund is going to help him fix his car, so he can keep his job, so that he can keep making money."
Organizers say the biggest challenge is getting the word out, and people to sign up.
"We find that when they first sit down with our volunteers, they're really nervous, because they're not sure what to expect. Am I going to owe money? What does this really mean? Do I really need to answer those questions? But by the time they find out they're getting all these credits back, they're like wow," says Lydia Guel, with Sacred Heart Community Service
Palafox says last year she didn't file. She was too proud to ask for help with her taxes, until now.
"They keep me afloat. Right when I think I’m going down and there's no one there to help me or save me or grab me, I call this place and they just help me you know," she says.
There are still appointments available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. And for those who wait until the last minute, volunteers will be set up at the Lundy Post Office on the 18th, so you can get your taxes done, and send them off on the spot.