What is the CSUN VITA Clinic?
CSUN has been a pioneer in the nationwide program of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. The CSUN VITA Clinic, which began in 1970, is designed to be a cost-free income tax assistance service to low-income taxpayers residing in the San Fernando Valley. Our goal is twofold: To provide outstanding free tax preparation service to low income taxpayers in our community and to provide our students with quality experiential learning experience in the field of taxation.
What Will I Gain?
Impact the community by helping and empowering low income taxpayers.
Understand tax law and the tools available to prepare and file tax returns.
Certify as a tax return preparer by taking the IRS VITA certification test.
Complete and submit electronically tax returns of low income taxpayers.
Acquire valuable client interviewing skills.
Develop your oral communication and leadership skills.
Distinguish your credentials by strengthening your portfolio of work experience.
Accumulate course credit to meet the 150 CPA licensure unit requirement.
What Roles Are Available for Students?
1.Tax Preparer: To serve as a Tax Preparer, you must have a strong verbal communication skills, good interpersonal skills, basic computer skills for entering tax information, ability to take initiative and work with minimal supervision, commitment to strengthening families by increasing self-sufficiency, and successfully complete the training described in more detail below. Students, who are interested in serving as Tax Preparers, must enroll in ACCT 292CS.
2.Supervisor: To serve as a Supervisor, you must have at least one tax season of experience as a VITA Tax Preparer (or other tax work experience), excellent interpersonal and organizational skills, and successfully complete the training as described in details below. Students, who are interested in serving as Supervisors, must enroll in ACCT 392CS.
3.Lead Supervisor: To serve as a Lead Supervisor, you must have at least one tax season of experience as a VITA Supervisor (or other tax work experience), excellent interpersonal and organizational skills, and successfully complete the training as described in details below. Students, who are interested in serving as Lead Supervisors, must apply in early fall and enroll in ACCT 392DCS in the spring semester (enrollment is limited to up to 15 students).
4.Operations Supervisor: To serve as an Operation Supervisor, you must have previously served as Lead Supervisor in the CSUN VITA Clinic or have had an equivalent experience. The Operation Supervisor’s role is a paid position of up to 20 hours per week during the tax season. Depending on funding, up to six Operations Supervisors will be hired in early fall by the CSUN VITA Clinic.
What Are the Requirements?
To successfully complete the course, you will be asked to: (a) complete an online (approximately 25.5 hours); (b) successfully pass online the IRS VITA credentialing exam; (c) complete the required hours of service and the number of shifts required either as a Tax Preparer, a Supervisor, or a Lead Supervisor; and (d) complete a minimum number of tax returns (or in the case of a Supervisor or Lead Supervisor, complete a minimum number of reviewed returns).
What Kind of Training Will I Get?
The training program is a 25.5 hour comprehensive program that involves online hands-on software training. This training consists of 2 3-hour training days per week for a total of 3 weeks beginning January 4, 2021. There is optional Link and Learn Training that you can take as well. The IRS VITA credentialing exam, which is administered online through Link and Learn, must be successfully passed by January 24, 2021. There are three supervisor training sessions required for Tax Supervisors.
Which Course Do I Enroll?
Students self-enroll in the desired VITA section. All students regardless of their major may serve as a tax preparer by enrolling in ACCT 292. To serve as a supervisor by enrolling in ACCT 392, students must have completed VITA before, have taken a federal income tax course, or have other tax work experience.
There are three accounting courses that are available for you to choose, depending on your role in the clinic: ACCT 292CS (2,3 or 4 units), ACCT 392CS (2,3 or 4 units), or ACCT 392 DCS - Lead Supervisor (4 units) . Your selection of which course to enroll depends on the number of credit units you are seeking, the number of hours you would like to render as a volunteer, the type of role you would like to assume, and your prior VITA Clinic experience. Below is a summary of the three course options:
Hours of Service/ Shifts
Minimum Number Federal Tax Returns Prepared/Reviewed
ACCT 292 CS
2 units: ACCT 292 BCS (only available for students concurrently enrolled in ACCT 440 and FIN 446)
3 units: ACCT 292 CCS
4 units: ACCT 292 DCS
2 units: 48 (6 shifts)
3 units: 60
4 units: 72
Tax returns prepared:
2 units: 32
3 units: 40
4 units: 48
Up to 40
ACCT 392 CS
2 units: ACCT 392 BCS
3 units: ACCT 392 CCS
4 units: ACCT 392 DCS
2 units: 48
3 units: 60
4 units: 72
Tax returns reviewed:
2 units: 64
3 units: 80
4 units: 96
Up to 45
4 units: ACCT 392 DCS (course may count as an upper division accounting elective)
Up to 45
Hours of Service
Minimum Number Federal Tax Returns Prepared/Reviewed
Tax Preparer or Supervisor
40 tax returns prepared or 80 returns reviewed
Up to 45
At the end of the spring semester, you will receive a grade for the VITA course. Final grade is assigned based on a point system earned by fulfilling the course requirements.
What is the Role of a Lead Supervisor?
Students, who are serving in the role of a Lead Supervisor, must enroll in a 4 unit ACCT 392 DCS course. This course may count as an upper division accounting elective. A Lead Supervisor supervises the Supervisors and Tax Preparers assigned to the site on a given shift. The Lead Supervisor is responsible for making sure that all returns have been properly reviewed by assigned Supervisor before electronically submitting them for filing. A Lead Supervisor must render at least 150 hours of service. Service must be performed on a weekly basis (8 hours per week recommended). Lead Supervisors must continue engagement in the role of a Lead Supervisor throughout the tax season even if the Lead Supervisor satisfies the minimum hours of service beforehand. In addition, a Lead Supervisor must at a minimum complete a review of 25 federal tax returns, or prepare 10 federal returns. Each completed return may substitute for 2.5 return reviews. Returns completed are recorded on a Performance Report Form and signed off by the Operation Supervisor. The Performance Report Form is kept by the student throughout the semester and once all requirements are met, the form is uploaded on the VITA Canvas site.
In addition, the Lead Supervisor must fulfill all other duties as described in the Clinic’s Manual, including assisting in facilitating the 8 hour in-class VITA training, as well as participating in CSUN VITA Clinic’s promotional activities.
Applications to serve as Lead Supervisors are processed in September.
Where Do We Provide Tax Preparation Service and how do I sign up for shifts?
Tax preparation takes place starting January 25 through April 15. You will need to select a cohort for the CSUN VITA location. To fulfill additional shifts, you may sign up for hours of service in more than one location, and you may choose to fulfill the required hours of service during the time that works best for your schedule (subject to availability). Each shift must be at least 4 hours long. Since all our sites will be Virtual, you do not need to travel anywhere.
You will need access to the Internet to participate in this program. CSUN VITA operates remote with a full virtual tax preparation model. This includes setting up your CSUN Zoom account. It is recommended, but not required to use a mouse and any other computer accessories that allow you comfort while using a laptop.
1. Sign Up: Online sign up for desired shift time begins on January 10, 2021 to all VITA students. Everything will be completely virtual.
How Do I Enroll in the VITA Course?
Students may self-enroll in the desired VITA section. All students regardless of their major may serve as a tax preparer by enrolling in ACCT 292. To serve as a supervisor by enrolling in ACCT 392, students must have completed VITA before, have taken a federal income tax course, or have other tax work experience.
Who Do I Contact If I Have Any Further Questions?
You may send us an email at VITA@csun.edu.
Student Testimonials and Profile Videos
"I absolutely loved this program, and wish I had known about it earlier. I really enjoyed being able to help low income taxpayers. For students who have not experienced the real world, this program is a great wake up call. Dealing with all the different type of people was the best part of the program, and getting a smile and thank you as they left gave me more satisfaction than any A in any class. Thank you to all the supervisors and teachers who help keep this program afloat!" -Armen Avedian
"It was a great experience and I am very fortunate to have done an array of tax returns ranging from amended returns to returns with Schedule C." -Kevin Ercomlek
"Fantastic program! I learned a lot both from a technical tax standpoint, and from an interpersonal stand point with learning how to engage with clients. I am very happy to have been a part of this program." -Jack Kravetsky