Bookstein Institute

Welcome to The CSUN VITA Clinic

Starting on May 11th, the CSUN VITA will be piloting virtual income tax preparation services. We are operating at a limited capacity, so space will be limited. All of our physical offices and locations are closed until further notice. 

Serving the public since 1970, CSUN VITA Clinic is a cost-free income tax assistance service to low-income residents in the San Fernando Valley and beyond. Our goal is to provide outstanding free tax preparation service to low-income taxpayers in our community and to provide our students with a quality experiential learning experience in the field of taxation.

Number One in Southern California Having Served Over 8,700 Low-Income Taxpayers in 2019. Powered with 514 student volunteers, the CSUN VITA Clinic operated in 20 sites throughout Los Angeles County, opened six days per week during the tax season, and offered over 120 hours of free tax preparation service weekly.

How does virtual income tax preparation work with VITA?

Your appointment will start with a telephone consultation with one of our IRS certified VITA volunteers will conduct a phone interview to verify if you qualify for our VITA services. Once we determine you qualify, we will explain step-by-step the virtual tax preparation procedure, which includes:

  1. Creating a personal password to encrypt all documents shared between you and the volunteer.
  2. Receiving a private, encrypted link to HIPAA Zoom.
  3. Discussing and preparing your income tax return over video interface.

You will have the option to also view the volunteer’s screen as they prepare your tax return. Upon the completion of your tax return, a second volunteer will be asked to join the Zoom session to review the tax return or answer any additional questions you or your preparer may have. After the tax return is reviewed, you will be given the opportunity to review the tax return yourself and address any additional questions or concerns.

If you believe everything is accurate and correct on the tax return, you will send an email consent authorizing your preparer to electronically file your tax return. A password-protected PDF copy of your Federal and State income tax return will be emailed or mailed to you based on your preference.

Disclaimer: We recommend checking if you qualify before making an appointment. The VITA program has limitations that may prevent us from serving you.

If you would like to try finding other free tax preparation sites, click on the following link from the IRS: https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/

Hours of Operations: Monday through Saturday from 10AM - 6PM

Virtual tax preparation services are appointment only. Each appointment lasts approximately two hours.

At this time, we are only preparing tax returns for 2017, 2018, and 2019. A separate appointment is required for each year. 

 If you would like to contact us, please send us an email.

Do not send any personal or financial documents.

We strongly advise not to call our office number or leave a voicemail. 

 


Under the supervision of experienced tax practitioners, trained and certified CSUN students provide free tax preparation services (federal and state) to eligible low-income taxpayers. Services are offered at the CSUN campus and several remote sites in the community beginning in late January through mid-April each year.

The CSUN VITA Clinic is sponsored by the Bookstein Institute for Higher Education in Taxation in the Department of Accounting & Information Systems at the David Nazarian College of Business & Economics. While supported by the IRS, the CSUN VITA Clinic is not part of or affiliated with the IRS.

The CSUN VITA Clinic does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, or age in admission, treatment, or participation in its programs, services and activities, or in employment. For further information about this policy, or if you need special accommodation for the services we provide, please contact us at least one week before your scheduled appointment at (818) 677-3600.


 

How Do I Know if I Am Eligible?

You may be eligible if you, and your spouse, earned a total gross income of less than $56,000 during the tax year and are a resident of Los Angeles County.

If you are an active-duty military or a veteran, the income threshold does not apply to you as well as other tax situations listed below such as rental income.

The following tax situations may disqualify you from our services:

  • Income from foreign sources, rental property, or Schedule K-1s

  • Married couples with no dependents filing separately

  • Registered domestic partners who want to file jointly

  • Specific business expenses:

    • Business use of home
    • Actual expenses for vehicles
    • Employees
    • Inventory and cost of goods sold
    • Depreciation
    • Businesses with a loss
    • Any cancellation of debt where the taxpayer filed bankrupt or was insolvent immediately before the debt was canceled
    • International students or nonresident aliens who:
      • Have dual-status citizenship
      • Income earned from a 1099-MISC, self-employment, gambling, or rent/royalties

While this list may not be inclusive, these are the more common scenarios that may disqualify most people from VITA services.

What Services Do We Exactly Offer for Virtual Tax Preparation?

We are able to prepare individual income tax returns for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019, including foreign student returns. We also serve active duty military and veterans.

Due to our limited capacity and the IRS is temporarily not accepting paper returns or correspondence, we are currently not offering the following services:

  • Tax returns prior to 2017

  • Amended returns

  • ITIN applications and renewals

  • IRS or FTB letters

These services may be offered in the future depending on the operations of the IRS.

What Do I Need before I Make an Appointment?

For a smooth and efficient virtual tax preparation process, we ask you to gather the following relevant documents prior to scheduling an appointment:

  • Proof of identification for you and/or your spouse
    • Both spouses must be present during the identity verification process of the tax return
    • For International Students, you will also need your Visa and I-9
  • Social Security cards or ITIN cards/letters for you, your spouse, and/or dependents
    • You may substitute this with a 1099-SSA, IRS transcript, or your prior year tax return done by CSUN VITA
  • Wage and income forms such as:
    • W-2 or W-2G Gambling Winnings
    • 1099-MISC and a list of business expenses relevant to self-employment work
    • 1099-B, DIV, or INT
    • 1099-G Unemployment Compensation
    • Cash
  • Information for other income
  • Form 1098-T Tuition Statement and any other educational expenses
  • Information for deductions
    • IRA contributions
    • 1098-E Student Loan Interest
    • 1098 Mortgage Interest
    • Real estate taxes
    • Charitable contributions/deductions
  • Amount paid to daycare provider and their tax ID number
  • Forms 1095-A, B, or C for health coverage
  • Copy of last year's tax return, if possible
    • For returning clients, let us know what location you visited
  • Bank routing and account number for direct deposit or debit. 

System Requirements

Prior to scheduling an appointment, please confirm you have access to the following for the virtual process:

  • Zoom on a laptop, tablet, or mobile device

  • Email address

  • Internet connection

For instructions on how to use Zoom, click here for instructions.

Please note if you are not comfortable with a virtual service, you may need to consider other tax filing services elsewhere.

Privacy and Data Security Disclosure

Taxpayers have the right to privacy and confidentiality. You reserve the right to ask the VITA volunteer to stop the return.

CSUN VITA volunteers also reserve the right to stop the tax preparation process and end the appointment if they believe there is a breach of security or privacy. This is to ensure the safety of the taxpayer’s private financial information. We will reschedule the session. 

This includes the presence or involvement of another party that is not the taxpayer or related to their return. We ask all taxpayers to have access to a secure and private area to discuss their personal financial information.