By Santiago Castillo |Staff Writer|
CSUSB accounting students volunteered to offer free income tax preparation at the school and at different locations throughout San Bernardino county.
This service has now been hosted for 33 years by the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program which started at CSUSB in 1982 under the direction of accounting professor Suzanne Cory.
This program was only initially offered in one location but has now expanded to six locations.
“This year we have 62 students scheduled to work more than 4,200 hours preparing taxes,” said Janet Courts, full-time lecturer in the accounting department and coordinator of the VITA program.
The student volunteers are certified at the advanced level in order to prepare basic tax returns including those with itemized deductions, earned income credit, education credit, dependent care credit and child tax credit.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the students to learn and for the clients to get free assistance,” said Salvador Viorato, accounting student and volunteer for the VITA program.
“I would suggest people to use this program because it’s free and you can’t really get free assistance for tax preparation in a lot of places,” said student Jessica Orozco, another volunteer for the VITA program.
“It’s nice to know that CSUSB thinks about the students and their needs by offering this program. It’s really nice to know that they care more about us than us giving them money,” said student Alejandra Ramirez.
In the 2013 tax season, about 70 CSUSB volunteers worked more than 5,800 hours preparing nearly 1,700 tax returns which yielded combined federal and state refunds totaling more than $1.5 million.
“I would suggest this program to other students because it’s free and on campus,” said student Robert Gutierez.
“I was suggested to this program by a friend,” added Gutierez.
Taxpayers who wish to participate in this program must bring valid photo ID and Social Security or ITIN cards for each taxpayer, as well as for all dependents claimed.
Taxpayers must also bring W-2s, 1099s and other pertinent tax documents. Both husband and wife must be present to sign joint returns. Free electronic filing will be available.
“I think this is a very good service, it’s easy to follow and the volunteers are very well prepared,” said student Alejandra Jimenez. “It’s definitely a resource that students should take advantage.”
Volunteers are unable to prepare tax returns for nonresident aliens, small business owners, rental properties owners or those who are married but filing separately.
This service is for people earning up to a maximum of $60,000.
Any person that still has to file their taxes can get assistance at the remaining times and locations that offer help from certified CSUSB accounting students.
The remaining dates and addresses to these locations can be found at news.csusb.edu.
No appointment is necessary at any of the locations.