Free income tax assistance on Saturdays
Cal State L.A students help local community with tax returns
Los Angeles, CA Â CanÂt afford to hire an accountant to complete your income tax returns? The Cal State L.A. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program is here to help. For the eighth consecutive year, it will be offering free income tax services to low- to moderate-income individuals ($39,000 or less) who cannot prepare their own tax returns.
Since 1998, Cal State L.A. students in the VITA program have provided free tax-preparation and filing services for fellow students and individuals from the surrounding community. The student-volunteers are all members of CSULA Beta Alpha Psi and Accounting Society. They are trained by the Internal Revenue Service and Cal State L.A. faculty in preparing basic Federal and State income tax returns. The Cal State L.A. VITA also offers free electronic filing.
The Cal State L.A. VITA site will be on the third floor of Salazar Hall, room 363. For the 2008 tax season, the site will remain open until Saturday, April 12. It operates on a first-come, first-serve basis on Saturdays, 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m. Appointments are not necessary.
David Hossain, faculty advisor to Cal State L.A. VITA site, says, ÂOur goal is to reach the 300/300 limit: 300 tax returns with $300,000 of tax refunds to our surrounding communities. This year we have implemented a web-based tax preparation interface, which will enable us to run the process a bit faster and more efficiently. We have also improved the quality of our VITA services by streamlining the process of screening, interviewing and return preparation. We are also noticing that our program is reaching our campus communities and beyond: taxpayers are coming from places as far as Long Beach, Pomona and Santa Monica.Â
CSULA VITA site manager and graduating senior Gina Sanchez says, ÂManaging the co-workers (student-volunteers) was a new and valuable experience for me. I had the opportunity to get to know 40+ co-workers, learn their personalities, strengths and weaknesses, and place them in a position that worked best for them and for VITA. I feel we were able to help our volunteers learn and provide an excellent service to the members of our community.Â
Another student-volunteer Suren Shakhyan says, ÂThe [VITA] experience is not only valuable as it is very important to get some practical experience before graduation, but it has been also truly enjoyable because all volunteers participate actively and are motivated.Â
Last season Cal State L.A.Âs VITA ProgramÂwith 42 student volunteersÂhelped to complete 212 tax returns, drawing in total refunds of $179,791 and total earned income credit refund amounts of $54,462. On average, each participating student volunteers about 50 hours to prepare tax returns.
Cal State L.A. is at the Eastern Avenue exit at the interchange of the 10 and 710 freeways. Public permit dispenser parking is available at Lots 5 and 7. For more information, call the CSULA Accounting Department at (323) 343-2830.
Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los AngelesÂ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 200,000 alumniÂwith a wide variety of interests, ages and backgroundsÂreflect the cityÂs dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Among programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center. www.calstatela.edu
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