That’s what Deborah Lee (center), a tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, did when she first became involved with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program through United Way of Greater L.A.
“I realized that volunteers have to study a lot of material to get through the VITA certification process and the only way to motivate other employees to get involved was by helping them pass the final test,” she said.
With this in mind, Deborah reached out to two trusted PwC colleagues: Judy Zhu (left) and Miranda Tse Foran (right).
“I had been organizing training sessions for some time and it was very encouraging to see how enthusiastic everyone was so I told Judy and Miranda, ‘Let’s make it big! Let’s work together and expand on these efforts. I’m confident we can recruit all the people we need.’”
Through the support of United Way, they quickly adopted the nearby El Centro del Pueblo site, one of 150 VITA locations in L.A. County where low to moderate-income individuals and families can apply for free, IRS-certified income tax preparation.
Fast forward three years and what started out as a modest project for the firm’s tax department is now an extensive operation with an oversight committee which handles recruitment, training and coordination of more than 100 dedicated volunteers.
Last year alone, PwC’s VITA staff put in roughly 800 hours of work, filed 450 tax returns and helped clients claim an estimated $800,000 in refunds.
According to Carlos Martinez, program director of El Centro Del Pueblo’s Family Development Network, their contributions have proven to be absolutely invaluable.
“We are extremely grateful to all of the amazing volunteers from PwC who support our site. We now prepare between 20 and 25 returns each day and we’re on track to serve 300 clients this tax season,” he said. “We’d also like to thank United Way not only for playing an instrumental role in guiding PwC to select and adopt El Centro del Pueblo but for solidifying our VITA program as a whole.”
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