Many happy returns with free income tax help
Cal State L.A students volunteer as tax assistants to those in need
Los Angeles, CA Â Starting Saturday, Jan. 27, the Cal State L.A. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program will offer free income tax services to low- to moderate-income individuals ($39,000 or less) who cannot prepare their own income 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 final-year accounting majors from the College of Business and Economics. They are trained every year 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.
Last year 39 accounting students helped to complete 109 returns, which drew in total refunds of $94,821 and total earned income credit refund amounts of $33,708.
David Hossain, faculty advisor to Cal State L.A. VITA site, says, ÂThis year our goal is to reach the 200/200 markÂ200 returns to bring $200,000 in refunds to the taxpayers. This is federal money to California, to our local economy, and more than one-third of it is available just by filing a tax return and claiming the earned income credit (by those who are eligible).Â The VITA Program, he says, has a two-fold purpose: ÂService and federal cash refunds for the community and service-learning and community-citizenship for the students.Â
Student-volunteer and CSULA VITA site manager Eric Chao says, ÂBeing involved with VITA has allowed me to experience something that I never imagined I would as a student at Cal State L.A. Not only do I get to learn how to work within a team, be professional, and develop leadership skills, I also get the opportunity to give back to the community in which I live.Â
Another student-volunteer, VITA advertising campaign manager Susan San, says, ÂVITA has really brought together the accounting students of Cal State L.A. We have all taken our personal time to help our local community. As volunteers, we are not expecting any compensation (which can be as high as $30/hour).Â
On average, each participating student volunteers about 50 hours to prepare tax returns. One said that she has recently been offered a promotion because she is now VITA-certified.
The Cal State L.A. VITA site is on the third floor of Salazar Hall, room 363. For the 2007 tax season, the site will remain open until Friday, April 13. It operates on a first-come, first-serve basis on Fridays and Saturdays, from 2 to 4 p.m. Appointments are not necessary.
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 C and F. 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 190,000 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. 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, to be housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center now under construction. www.calstatela.edu
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