VITA helps community at tax time
May 7, 2010 -- In a little more than two months, student volunteers from the SF State Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program completed 1,074 e-file tax returns for free on behalf of members of the campus and San Francisco communities. The number of filed returns was a 20 percent increase from the previous year, and resulted in $1,089,048 in federal tax refunds filed for taxpayers.
"Every year the number of returns increases," said Professor of Accounting Joanne Duke, who is also the faculty advisor for Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting student organization. "It's word of mouth. People who have come in the past, continue to come and tell their friends."
VITA is an Internal Revenue Service program that provides free assistance to low-income, elderly, limited English-proficient and disabled individuals who require assistance in preparing their tax returns and cannot afford the services of a paid professional tax preparer. SF State's VITA program is run by the students of Beta Alpha Psi. The service was available this spring for those with an annual household income of less than $49,000.
The program provides student volunteers with valuable experience outside the classroom. Student volunteers receive free training from the IRS for preparing taxes and tips for interacting with tax clients.
SF State's VITA program has received recognition in the past for its large number of returns filed, and its community involvement. This year, 200 volunteers helped 1,242 families and individuals in the Bay Area.
"It's a great service that gets a lot of different individuals coming together," Duke said. "The University contributes the space, a CPA firm donates computers and the students do the work. It has been successful because of this partnership. A lot of universities don't have that."
For more information on SF State's VITA program, visit http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~bap/vita.html
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