Department of Accounting, Cal State L.A. | Feb. 4, 2013 | Spotlight

CSULA students to provide free tax filing services for 2013

VITA trains accounting majors to become certified tax experts

Image: 1040 tax form.
Pictured: CSULA students volunteering at the VITA site.

With a new year comes another tax season. Students from Cal State L.A.’s Department of Accounting are ready to offer free tax return preparation services again this year to the surrounding communities, as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

Last year, VITA student volunteers—who are all trained and certified through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—completed 488 returns and helped taxpayers receive nearly $607,000 in refunds.

The VITA services for the 2013 tax season will be available to low- to moderate-income individuals ($50,000 or less) on a first-come, first-served basis. It will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., every Saturday, from Jan. 26 through Apr. 13, in Salazar Hall, room 343, on the CSULA campus.

The program is a good opportunity for CSULA students to gain valuable professional experience as well as to serve or give back to the community while providing their expertise.

Christin Huang Armira, who is a site manager for CSULA’s VITA 2013 site, shared that she enjoyed volunteering last year and wanted to contribute to the program this year.

“What drew me to VITA was the fact that I would be helping my community and providing a service that would generally cost a lot at outside retail outlets,” said Amira. “Also, it’s been beneficial learning about taxes hands-on, which generally does not happen in the classroom setting. I’ve found on many occasions taxpayers do not understand their taxes and how it affects them. I feel rewarded when I’m able to help them understand their taxes.”

Armira, who is working toward a bachelor’s degree in accounting, served as a quality control reviewer for the 2011 tax season.

Special event:
On Saturday, Feb. 16, Cal State L.A. VITA will also partner with the California State Board of Equalization and the IRS to host a Free Income Tax Preparation and Family Services Event from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Salazar Hall, room 343. The one-day mega event will feature access to free tax preparation assistance, low cost and free medical services, job preparation assistance, food and nutrition service, discount telephone service and low cost auto insurance.

VITA info:
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 /
. For more info, call (323) 318-4339.

“As a quality control reviewer,” she explained, “I made sure the returns were prepared accurately and correctly for the taxpayer. I was the last person they saw before their return gets filed. It has helped me to learn how to search for errors and to audit.”

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

This year, the VITA Program at Cal State L.A. will also offer Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) services, where taxpayers will be able to prepare their own tax returns online with minimal supervision and guidance. There is a $57,000 income limitation for this internet-based program.

“Additionally, VITA can assist with non-resident returns for foreign scholars and students, as well as tax returns for undocumented students and aliens,” said David Hossain, VITA site coordinator and associate professor of accounting at CSULA. “In order to enhance the services offered here at CSULA, this year we will provide on-site Financial Awareness and Money Management Sessions in coordination with the CSULA Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo. These sessions will be running concurrently alongside with the VITA and the FSA programs.”

Links of interest: