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CSUN Students Provide Free Tax Preparation Assistance to Low-Income People

January 26, 2016

The calendar may say January, but before you know it, April will be here and your taxes will be due. California State University, Northridge business students hope to take a little bit of the sting out of tax day by offering free tax preparation assistance to members of the public.

CSUN’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Clinic is offering free assistance with state and federal tax preparation to low-income families and individuals — including veterans, non-English speakers, senior citizens and persons with disabilities — beginning Jan. 23 through April 15 at locations throughout the San Fernando Valley.

“Many low-income households cannot afford to pay a tax professional to prepare their income-tax return,” said accounting professor Rafi Efrat, CSUN’s Bookstein Chair in Taxation and director of the university’s Institute for Higher Education in Taxation. “This often means that they will do it themselves or have a family member or friend do it, and may miss important tax deductions and credits that could put more money back into their pockets.

“Our goal here is to dramatically increase the number of individuals and families in the San Fernando Valley who receive no-cost tax preparation assistance and who access the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program — the nation’s largest and most powerful federal aid program for the working poor,” Efrat said.

For a list of CSUN VITA locations — including sites in Panorama City, Sylmar, Pacoima, Sun Valley, San Fernando, Van Nuys and Canoga Park, as well as on campus — and the dates and times students will be available to prepare tax forms, visit VITA’s website at http://www.csun.edu/bookstein-institute/csun-vita-clinic.

Recognizing the increasing demand for VITA’s services, Efrat said the CSUN program has expanded the period it offers free tax preparation assistance from about seven weeks to 11 weeks. It also has expanded its hours of operation on the CSUN campus from eight hours per week to 44 hours per week.

“With the expanded capacity, we plan to increase the number of taxpayers we serve from 350 in 2015 to more than 1,800 this year,” Efrat said

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