As this year’s tax deadline looms ahead on April 18, Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is offering free income tax preparation assistance for students, as well as members of the community.
Offering free e-filing for federal and state tax returns, VITA is a joint effort by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide income tax assistance to low- and moderate-income individuals, the handicapped, the elderly and limited-English-proficient individuals, according to the release.
VITA program volunteers do not prepare business tax returns and they do not do itemized returns, and only assists those who made $54,000 or less in 2016.
“The program serves both the students and the community,” said Philip Nguyen, a senior accounting major and a 2017 VITA co-coordinator. “Last year, we prepared 1,876 federal and state returns, providing over $800,000 in tax refunds. VITA provides our students with a bit of real-world work experience in interacting with clientele and working as a team.”
In 2015, the program secured approximately $816,012 in total refunds for individuals and more than $825,047 in 2016, according to the release.
Sixty IRS-trained and certified accounting majors are serving as volunteers for the 2017 program, and are qualified to prepare and e-file basic income tax returns, as well as foreign student tax returns. They are also qualified to answer tax questions and concerns that those requesting assistance may have.
VITA is sponsored by the IRS and funded through the campus’ Instructional Related Activities Fund.
“VITA has been growing every year,” said Kyla Tamondong, a senior accounting major who served as the VITA site coordinator in 2016 and is co-coordinator this year, in a statement. “The program is now offered as a class that accounting students can take not only to gain first-hand experience in tax preparation but also to fulfill the 150-unit requirement for their CPA licensure.”
Those interested in having their 2016 tax returns prepared through the VITA program should bring the required documents listed here, and should set aside at least one hour.
Additionally, clients also should try to bring a copy of their federal and state returns from last year, if available; bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit; total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s Social Security number or business employer identification number; and, if a client paid rent for at least half of 2016 for property in California, he or she should have the rental dates and landlord’s information (name, address, phone number).
It is also important to note that when filing taxes electronically on a married filing joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms, according to VITA.
The CSULB VITA program operates out of Room 237 on the second floor of the College of Business Administration (CBA) building off of Bellflower Boulevard. Volunteers will prepare returns through Friday, March 24, from 8:00AM to 5:00PM, Mondays through Thursdays, and 9:00AM to 3:00PM on Fridays.
CSULB is located at 1250 Bellflower Boulevard.