The CSUN VITA Clinic has been providing free tax services to students and the community for 48 years. With the help of a grant from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the clinic has recently expanded its outreach to different student groups on campus, including international students. Elisa is an international student from Switzerland who took advantage of these services this year.
She is a junior who is majoring in political science and is also a tennis player on the CSUN women’s tennis team. Although she is only 20 years old, Elisa was the Swiss national champion three times and French champion in doubles. Between school, practice and games, she is also a working student.
International students just like any other students, must file their tax returns. Elisa’s sports advisor provided her information about the CSUN VITA Clinic. Elisa was pleased the first time she used VITA’s tax services last year, so she did not hesitate to come back for a second time. “I already worked with VITA the first year I came and it was basically the same,” Elisa said. “It was really helpful and they basically explained what you have to do and how to get information.” The CSUN VITA Clinic holds special dates for different groups of students. Some of those groups include the International and Exchange Student Center, Pride Center, Dream Center, Veterans Resource Center, Women Research and Resource
Center and the Deaf Studies Department. On Thursdays, international students have a whole day dedicated to just them. Elisa explained that because she is an international student the process is more complex. For that reason, she cannot file her tax return using a software, like others tend to do.
Doing her taxes back home is easier; however, in the United States there is more information and paperwork to fill out. International students like Elisa discuss the obstacles and challenges they face when it comes to filing their tax returns. Therefore, they encourage other internationals to use the CSUN VITA Clinic, and they promote it as well.
“We always talk about it because it’s more complicated here than our own countries so we all come here to figure it out,” she said.
Prior to filing her tax return she made an online appointment. Filing her taxes took about one hour. Elisa believes other students should use VITA’s services because it’s free and students get their money back. “Sometimes it’s a lot of money, so that should motivate students to come,” Elisa said. Although filing her tax return out here is complicated, she has adapted to the culture in the United States and appreciates the services CSUN VITA has offered her and other international students on campus.