In February, CSUN opened nine new free tax preparation clinics for veterans in Los Angeles, in collaboration with Citi Community Development and the Los Angeles Veterans Administration. The IRS estimates that more than 2 million veterans nationwide are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In Los Angeles County, where an estimated 70,000 veterans are eligible for the EITC, only 5 percent took advantage of the credit in 2017. With funding support from Citi Community Development, CSUN has trained veteran volunteers as IRS- certified tax filers with the goal to assist an estimated 4,500 of their veterans.
“The focus of the initiative is to provide veterans with greater access to obtaining financial resiliency,” said accounting professor Rafi Efrat, director of the CSUN VITA Clinic and Bookstein Institute for Higher Education in Taxation. Not only did we train veterans how to help their fellow veterans with tax preparation, but we also offered financial workshops that hopefully empowered them to manage their finances."
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) praised the program. "I think everybody in the Valley, and especially at CSUN, should be proud that the VITA program started on the CSUN campus in 1970, and has grown to have locations all over the country," he said."I have nothing but praise for the student volunteers who are working with the faculty and staff in the business college to help people, including veterans, prepare their taxes and get their Earned Income Tax Credits."
"Our veterans were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for America, and we should do everything possible to connect them to assistance and services that will give them a leg up," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "The money they can save with the EITC can make a world of difference to someone readjusting to civilian life - allowing them to invest in meaningful things like quality childcare home improvement, reliable transportation and higher education."“After exiting the military, veterans often find they have to make important decisions very quickly, including establishing financial plans. Tax season can offer a key opportunity to begin planning and saving for the future,” said Ruth Christopherson, senior vice president of Citi Salutes and Citi Community Development and retired Colonel of the South Dakota Air National Guard. “By expanding free tax preparation services to lower-income veterans, CSUN aims to enable more eligible families to gain access to financial education from trusted peers and help build their long-term financial resilience.”