What is Virtual VITA?
Virtual VITA is an alternate filing model offered by various VITA programs throughout the United States when the traditional face-to-face tax preparation isn't available. It involved a tax preparation process without the taxpayer physically present during the majority of the process. Due to the 2020 pandemic of COVID-19 and government shutdowns at the state and federal level, many VITA locations were forced to shutdown, including CSUN VITA.
With the help of the university and IRS, we were able to develop and offering a virtual tax preparation service for the remainder of the 2019-2020 tax season.
How does virtual income tax preparation work with VITA?
Once you make an appointment on our website, you will receive a confirmation email that has detailed information about what you need to prepare for your appointment. Ensure you have signed the IRS Form 14446 per email instructions and completed Form 13614-C.
The day of your appointment, you will receive an email with a private, encrypted link to HIPAA Zoom from "The Bookstein Institute for Higher Education in Taxation." Your appointment will begin with an interview in which we will verify if you qualify for our VITA services. There are approximately 6 clients that will also need to have an interview conducted by a supervisor. Please be patient as we are working as fast and thoroughly as we can. Once we determine you qualify, we will explain step-by-step the virtual tax preparation procedure, which includes:
- Discussing and preparing your income tax return over video interface.
- Creating a personal password to encrypt your tax return.
- Receiving a "Consent to E-file" email at the conclusion of your appointment.
You may share your documents with the volunteer through the following approved methods:
- Sharing your screen that has the pdf copies of your tax documents.
- Showing your physical copies to the taxpayer through the HIPAA Zoom camera.
Note: Under no circumstances should tax documents be transferred without the appropriate encryption.
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 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 to you based on your preference.
What services do we offer using Virtual VITA?
We are able to prepare individual income federal and state tax returns for the years 2007 - current tax year, including returns for international students, active duty military, and veterans.
Our services also include, but are not limited to:
Amended individual income tax returns
ITIN applications and renewals
Understanding your IRS and FTB letters
Are there any additional requirements for virtual services?
Besides the usual documents and forms we require for tax preparation, we also require all taxpayers to have access to Zoom on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, Internet connection, and a valid email address.
Part of our virtual procedure does require you to consent to the virtual process by signing the Form 14446 - Virtual VITA/TCE Taxpayer Consent. Prior to signing this form, we disclose the whole process which is why we won't accept a signed copy before your appointment. We are not allow to proceed with any virtual services until we explain the process and you sign the form.
A blank copy is online at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14446.pdf.
Do you offer any alternate filing options other than virtual?
Yes, we are now offering Drop-Off services at the following locations:
- YMCA - Mid Valley (Van Nuys)
- YMCA - West Valley (Reseda)
- PARS Equality Center (Sherman Oaks)
Our Drop-Off services consist of attending a 20-minute appointment at one of the above locations to bring all of your tax documents to get scanned into our secured Confidential Box folder. Tax documents you should bring to your appointment include but are not limited to: proper forms of identification, social security cards/ITINs for everyone listed on the tax return, W-2s, 1099s, 1095-A, bank account information for direct deposit/debit, and all other tax documents that apply to you.
Complete Form 13614-C before attending your Drop-Off appointment.
Your tax return will be completed by VITA and they will call you to discuss any matters with you in regards to tax refund/liability. Upon approval of the refund/liability, VITA will schedule another appointment for you to go to the designated location above to pick up your tax return.
You will have one more chance to physically review your tax return before you provide written consent to E-file your tax return.
The turnaround time on Drop-Off returns is about 1-2 weeks.
When will your office and remote locations reopen?
Since we operate under a university, we must follow any instructions provided by CSUN. This means until the university allows us to operate our physical locations again, we cannot be certain when we can see everyone's smiling faces again.
This also means we will remain closed even if the lockdown mandates are lifted and everything reopens until we are allowed by the university.
Is Zoom safe? or I don't feel comfortable using Zoom, can we use something else?
Zoom has made headlines in recent news for the last few months that it is vulnerable and not secure for confidential meetings. We understand these concerns and security and privacy can never be 100% guaranteed.
However, we do use a secure and encrypted version of Zoom known as Zoom HIPAA. Zoom HIPAA grants us an extra level of security by allowing us to lock meetings while we are in session and limit accessibility to specific users. For more information about Zoom HIPAA, visit this link: https://zoom.us/docs/doc/Zoom-hipaa.pdf
We also integrated our own Zoom protocols such as:
- Create a new password for every meeting
- Identifying ourselves as your preparer prior to the Zoom session
- Locking the meeting for the whole session
- Conducting the meeting through a secure CSUN VPN and Remote Workstation
Zoom HIPAA has been approved by our IT department and IRS for virtual use. If you are still unsure or uncomfortable using Zoom, please see our Drop-Off alternative.
What should I bring to my appointment?
In preparation for your appointment, please fill out Form 13614-C as it will help you identify the documents you need for your appointment. If you are filing a Married Filing Joint return, both you and your spouse must be present at the appointment.
- Social security cards/ITINs for everyone that will be listed on the return
- Current year W-2
- 1099-NEC (non-employee compensation)
- 1099-SSA (social security income)
- 1099-INT (interest income)
- 1099-Div (dividend income)
- 1099-B (Sales of Stocks, Bonds, Virtual Currency, or Real Estate)
- 1099-R (retirement income)
- 1099-G (unemployment compensation)
- W-2G (gambling winnings)
- 1099-B (stockbrokers transaction statement)
- 1099-K (Lyft and Uber most commonly)
- Tax Summary (Uber and Lyft. Gives earnings and fees paid)
- Total Cash Income along with a list of Business expenses.
- 1099-C (Cancellation of Debt)
- 1098-T (tuition form)
- 1098 (mortgage interest statement)
- Real estate tax forms
- 1095-A (market place insurance aka Obama Care, Covered California, Affordable Care Act)
- 1095-B (Medi-Cal)
- 1095-C (employer-provided health insurance)
- IP Pin letter
- 1098-E (student loan interest repayment)
- 5498-SA (HSA)
- Amount contributed to an IRA (can be written on additional comments of Form 13614-C)
- Notice 1444A and Notice 1444B Stimulus Payments (may be written on additional comments)
- Voided Check or account and routing number for direct deposit/direct debit