CSU 5 Expands CSUN’s Free Tax Preparation Assistance Program for “Financial Fresh Starts” Across SoCal
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the impact of a tax refund can be life-changing: Nagging debts repaid. Money saved for a child’s college education.
For nearly 50 years, California State University, Northridge’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Clinic has provided cost-free expert tax assistance for families and individuals with low incomes, leading to such benefits, said Rafi Efrat, Bookstein Chair in Taxation and the director of the VITA Clinic. CSUN student volunteers have benefited as well, as they have earned IRS certification for tax preparation, giving them real-world experience and a professional head start.
That win-win relationship is expanding dramatically throughout the Los Angeles region this year. Thanks to a new collaboration between CSUN and four other Los Angeles County California State University campuses — known as the CSU 5 — and six LA-based community colleges, the reach of VITA will extend far beyond its traditional roots in the San Fernando Valley. The expanded service area will stretch from Long Beach in the south, Antelope Valley in the north, to Pomona in the east, Santa Monica in the west and all areas in between.
The services are available to those with household annual incomes of $54,000 or less.
“The taxpayers we serve have the opportunity to obtain vital resources for a financial fresh start in their lives,” Efrat said.
CSUN officials, business leaders and elected officials gathered Feb. 9 in front of Bookstein Hall — home to the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, which oversees the VITA clinics — to celebrate this expansion. CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison was joined by U.S. Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-Los Angeles); Bill Allen Hon.D. ’14, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation; Lisa Salazar, director of workforce development and economic opportunity for the Los Angeles mayor’s office; Tracy Chadwick, acting director for the IRS Stakeholder Partnerships, Education & Communication (SPEC), Area 3 office; and Efrat.
Efrat received a $344,250 grant from the California Department of Community Services and Development to expand the VITA program to include the CSU 5 VITA Initiative, named for the California State University campuses in Northridge, Los Angeles, Dominguez Hills, Long Beach and Pomona. The CSU 5 campuses work together to ensure their educational and research strengths play a significant role in shaping the future of the region. (Read More About the CSU5 Expansion of CSUN’s Free Tax Preparation Assistance Program.)