CSUN Continues Program to Help Veterans with Their Taxes by Carmen Ramos Chandler, CSUN Today
California State University, Northridge announced the start of its 2020 free tax preparation initiative for veterans. CSUN, with support from Citi, has trained dozens of military veterans as IRS-certified tax preparers with the goal of assisting an estimated 4,500 of their veteran peers in filing their taxes in Los Angeles County.
The initiative, which is in its third year, aims to expand financial access and resilience for lower-income veterans by providing free tax preparation, access to financial coaching and efforts to ensure eligible filers received their federal and state earned income tax credit (EITC). This year, the clinics will run through April 15 at 16 sites open to the general public, as well as four sites that are dedicated to serve veterans. A list of locations, dates and times can be found on the CSUN Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Clinic website.
“The focus of this continuing initiative is to provide veterans with greater access to obtaining financial resiliency,” said accounting professor Rafi Efrat, director of CSUN’s VITA Clinic and the Bookstein Institute for Higher Education in Taxation in the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. “Not only will we have trained veterans how to help their fellow veterans with tax preparation, but we will also have offered financial coaching services that will hopefully empower them to manage their finances.”
This year, the CSUN VITA Clinic will also assist San Diego City College as it embarks on a similar effort in San Diego.
“Service members transitioning out of the military often face difficulty establishing financial stability due to quickly changing housing, income and benefits,” said James Alva, Southern California market manager, Citi Community Development. “By expanding access to free tax preparation, offered by trusted veteran peers, the CSUN VITA Clinic helps eligible, low-income veterans take an important step toward building a more secure financial future.”
Last year, with Citi’s support, more than 500 volunteers provided free tax preparation assistance to more than 8,500 low-income individuals through CSUN’s VITA Clinic.
The veteran initiative is staffed by IRS-certified veteran volunteers and will be available to taxpayers six days a week. Those eligible must have an annual household income under $56,000 in 2019. For more information, including eligibility requirements, visit the CSUN VITA website.
In addition to support from Citi, the CSUN VITA Clinic has long been supported by such philanthropists as Harvey Bookstein, a CSUN alumnus and one of California’s most respected certified public accountants, and visionary businessman David Nazarian, also a CSUN alumnus.
VITA is a program sponsored by the IRS that offers free tax services to individuals and families with low to moderate incomes, the elderly, disabled and those who lack English language proficiency.
For 50 years, CSUN’s VITA Clinic has served the communities in and around the San Fernando Valley, making it one of the largest VITA clinics in California.