Volunteer Income Tax Assistance | Spotlight

CSULA students to help filers navigate the tax maze

Free e-file, new I-CAN!® E-File services offered to the local community

Pictured: CSULA students Michael Winburn (front) and Ivette Campos (left back) proving tax filing services at the CSULA VITA site.Pictured: A group of VITA volunteers at the CSULA site on Saturday, Jan. 28.

What is a 540 or 1040 form? What is earned income credit? With the tax season upon us, Cal State L.A. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program is here to help those from the surrounding communities navigate the maze of filing tax returns.

Every Saturday through March 31, Cal State L.A.’s accounting students—trained and certified through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—are volunteering to offer free income-tax preparation services to low- to moderate-income individuals ($50,000 or less) who need assistance with traditional electronic filing.

“It’s here that we get to apply our knowledge and training, while providing a glimmer of hope for those already burdened from financial struggles,” said Gloria Wyatt, an accounting major at CSULA.

The VITA services will take place on the third floor of Salazar Hall, room 343, on the CSULA campus. It will operate on a first-come, first-served basis from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Appointments are not necessary.

Extended VITA at LACC

On Saturday, March 10, Cal State L.A. is partnering with the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) to offer VITA services at Los Angeles City College (LACC), as a service-learning opportunity for final-year accounting students.

VITA Community Outreach

On Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m-3 p.m., clients will receive health-care, financial literacy and other services along with regular VITA services at the CSULA site in Salazar Hall, room 343. CSULA students will also have the opportunity to meet prospective employers, such as the BOE, banks, health care providers and more.

VITA 411

For a list of items tax filers need to bring with them, and/or types of returns that can and cannot be done at the CSULA VITA site, go to /sites/default/files/vita/ or call (323) 318-4339.

Wyatt added, “As a VITA site manager, I am able to keep up with tax law changes, practice training staff members, network with clubs and organizations, as well as serve the community. This experience will also look good on a job resume, if one decides to pursue a career with the IRS, Franchise Tax Board or Board of Equalization upon graduation from CSULA.”

This year, the CSULA VITA site also launched the self-help I-CAN!® E-File program, where taxpayers are able to prepare their own tax returns with minimal supervision and guidance. There is no income limitation for this internet-based program, which features a built-in live chat that offers immediate assistance and technical support. I-CAN!® E-File services will be available in Salazar Hall, room 342.

“With the new program, our goal is to prepare 500 tax returns for the 2012 tax season,” said David Hossain, associate professor of accounting at CSULA. “Last year, we prepared 391 federal and state tax returns and refunded $515,794 to those from the surrounding communities.”

The CSULA VITA Program has earned a reputation for outstanding services to the community, receiving a Maria Shriver Letter of Recognition for the past few years. In 2010, CSULA was also presented the prestigious “Lowest Rejection Rate” award from the IRS.