California State University, Long Beach
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Accounting Students Offering Tax Return Help Through April 10

Published: April 1, 2009

Through Friday, April 10, accounting majors at CSULB are assisting students and members of the community with their 2008 tax returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

VITA is a cooperative effort by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and many individual states, including California, to provide income tax assistance to low- and moderate-income individuals, the handicapped and the elderly. Volunteers are trained to prepare basic income tax returns free of charge at VITA sites.

“Our VITA program has been running for several years, and it’s really a great program. It is sponsored by the IRS but funded through the campus’ Beta Alpha Psi and Accounting Society,” said Charmaine Baird, a senior accounting major at CSULB and the campus’ VITA program coordinator for the second straight year. “Our program helps many students on campus and people from the community who cannot afford to go to paid preparers to get their taxes filed. At the same time, the program gives student volunteers valuable experience that can further help them to attain full-time employment in the accounting field.”

Baird noted that this year the campus VITA program has 48 volunteers who are trained and certified by the IRS to prepare and E-file basic income tax returns and foreign student tax returns. They began preparing returns on Feb. 2, and so far, they have assisted some 200 individuals from both the campus and the community.

The program runs through Friday, April 10, but will be down while students from the campus are on spring break (through April 4).

There are limitations to those who can use the service, however. Baird noted that the VITA program does not prepare business tax returns. In addition, the CSULB program can only assist those who made less than $48,000 in 2008.

Those interested in having their 2008 tax returns prepared through the CSULB VITA program should bring the following items: proof of identification; Social Security cards, including spouse’s and dependents’ (or a Social Security number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration); birth dates, including spouse’s and dependents’; current year’s tax package; wage and earnings statements (W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers); and interest and dividend statements from banks (1099 forms).

Vita
Photo by Victoria Sanchez
Participating in the VITA program are Miryam Jacinto (l) and Tristain Fromm.

Additionally, clients should try to bring a copy of their federal and state returns from last year, if available; bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit; total paid for day-care provider and the day-care provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security number or the provider’s business employer identification number); and, if a client paid rent for at least half of 2008 for property in California, he/she should have the rental dates and landlord’s information (name, address, phone number).

Baird also pointed out that for those filing taxes electronically on a married filing joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

The CSULB VITA program, which operates in CSULB’s College of Business Administration (CBA) Building, Room 237, is open to assist students and members of the community from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. Members of the community are advised to use the metered parking in Lot 15, adjacent to the CBA Building. The cost is $2 per hour.

For more information, contact Baird at vita.csulb@gmail.com. Those interested can also visit the Beta Alpha Psi and Accounting Society Web site, then click on VITA.