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(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Jan. 22, 2007) -- The words "free" and "taxes" donít usually appear together in the same sentence. However, Cal State Northridge students are providing free state and federal income tax preparation to low-income families and individuals who qualify.
The Wayne and Roberta Colmer Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program starts Feb. 3 and continues until April 14 at 16 locations throughout the San Fernando Valley and in Los Angeles.
VITA coordinator Donna Watkins said the program benefits both Northridge students and the community as a whole.
"Our students get experience dealing with real clients and tax preparation and members of the community get services they might not otherwise be able to afford," she said. "Many people can’t afford to go to a ‘professional’ tax preparer and either don’t pay their taxes or donít prepare them properly. Many of the people we see are actually eligible for a refund and donít know it."
About 170 CSUN students have undergone intensive training on most basic problems taxpayers confront from certified public accountants and alumni in a variety of Southland accounting firms and businesses. The students are thoroughly versed in this year’s new tax laws, are equipped to complete basic tax forms and have the back-up support from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, who will serve as advisors at some of the VITA centers.
The free tax preparation assistance is available to low-income families, individuals, the disabled and seniors with a maximum gross income of $50,000 a year. Married couples filing joint returns must have both spouses present when tax returns are being prepared. Special assistance will be available for senior citizens as well as non-English speakers.
Services are available on a first-come, first-served basis only; no appointments will be available.
Taxpayers are advised to arrive early and with all necessary tax forms, including: W-2 forms, interest and dividend statements, education and mortgage statements (1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1098-E, 1098), receipts and records for deductions and donations, a copy of last yearís tax returns, and any other related material.
VITA volunteers are also able to prepare 1099 MISC forms for those taxpayers whose expenses were under $5,000. Electronic tax-filing services are available.
For more information on center dates and times, as well as a list of the MTA routes that service VITA locations, visit the VITA Web site at www.csun.edu/vita/ or call (818) 677-4519.
The VITA program began in 1966 with a Congressional appropriation. Cal State Northridge was the first university to institute the VITA program in 1971. Since then, Northridge has assisted colleges across the nation in establishing their own VITA programs. CSUN maintains one of the largest and most successful VITA programs in the nation.
Cal State Northridge’s College of Business and Economics is home to several nationally recognized programs where students gain valuable hands-on experience working alongside faculty members and business professionals in a variety of areas. In addition to the VITA program, the college also houses the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center, where students work with faculty in collecting, assembling, analyzing and disseminating economic, social and demographic data pertaining to the Valley.
California State University, Northridge has 34,500 full- and part-time students and offers 62 bachelor’s and 50 master’s degrees as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Founded in 1958, CSUN is among the largest single-campus universities in the nation and the only four-year public university in the San Fernando Valley. The university serves as the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Valley and beyond.
California State University, Northridge at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330 / Phone: 818-677-1200 / © 2006 CSU Northridge