With tax day just around the corner, many Americans are scrambling to get their documents in order and their forms completed. For those who need help with the return but can't afford
to hire the services of a CPA, there is an alternative. The IRS offers volunteer tax assistance in a variety of communities to help low-income families
get the help they need before April 15. The benefits are even more far-reaching, as many community college students aspiring to accounting careers can get the training and experience they need to work in this volunteer program.
We'll give a brief overview of the volunteer program and who it helps, as well as list a few of the community colleges
that have come alongside the IRS to help Americans get their taxes filed on time.
What is VITA?
According to the IRS website
, VITA, also referred to as the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, is designed to offer free tax help to low to moderate-income Americans who are unable to complete their own tax returns. The service utilizes certified volunteers sponsored by a number of organizations to provide the assistance people need to file their basic income tax forms.
Most of the VITA stations are located at community places like libraries, schools and shopping malls. Community colleges are another option where VITA services might be provided.
VITA helps many different groups of Americans file their taxes accurately and on time. Some of the people that qualify for VITA services include:
· Families with incomes below $49,000
· Those who cannot file their tax returns on their own
· Military personnel and their families
can also get assistance with their tax returns, but instead of turning to VITA for the services, these individuals can go to the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Programs. In addition to assistance filling out tax forms, most VITA locations can help individuals file their returns electronically, so they get their refunds much more quickly.
For more information on a VITA location near you, check the website for the IRS. We also have examples of a few community colleges around the country that offer VITA offices.
Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College
In Wisconsin, people can get VITA services through Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College. This school will be offering tax assistance on campus Tuesday evenings and Saturdays until the tax filing deadline. The service is available to individuals making less than $50,000 annually, and it is not limited to the campus student population, according to the Superior Telegram
. This office is able to file returns electronically, as long as both persons on the tax form are available to provide an original signature.
In Kansas City, residents who need help filing their tax returns can get the assistance they need at the VITA office located on the campus of MCC-Maple Woods Community College
. According to a report at the Kansas City Star
, the accounting students providing the tax services have been trained and certified by the IRS.
The office is located in the Computing-Business Building on the Maple Woods campus. Through March and April, the office will be open Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons, except for during spring break
. This school will serve individuals and families whose income does not exceed $49,000.
Massachusetts residents can also find VITA services available through the campus of Mount Wachusett Community College
. The trained volunteers are available Thursday evenings at the Gardner campus to provide assistance in filing tax returns and offer information about tax benefits. They are also open at the Leominster campus on Friday afternoons.
According to the Leominster Champion
, individuals who need help are encouraged to make an appointment at the location that is most convenient for them.
In New York, Genesee Community College
is also providing tax assistance through the VITA program. A press release at Read Media
lists walk-in days on Thursday evenings at the college campus. The release states that Cheryl Corke, assistant professor of accounting at Genesee, has overseen the rigorous training volunteers must complete to provide the much needed tax assistance to New York residents. There will also be certified faculty and other staff available to offer a helping hand. This year marks the second that Genesee Community College
has been involved with the VITA program.
More about VITA
If you are interested in receiving assistance from a VITA office, you are encouraged to bring the following documentation to your appointment:
· Your Social Security Number
· Proof of Identification
· Birth Dates for You and Your Dependents
· Wage and Earning Statements from Employers
· Interest and Dividend Statements from Your Banks
· A Copy of Last Year's Federal Tax Return, if possible
· Proof of Bank Account and Routing Numbers for Direct Deposit
· Total Amount Paid to Daycare Providers
· Proof of Foreign Status, if Applying for ITIN
In addition to the documentation, everyone listed on the tax return must be present to provide an original signature on the document if you want to take advantage of the electronic filing services at the VITA office.
Filing taxes is not something most Americans look forward to, but for some, handling the process on their own is nearly impossible. If you are in this situation, and cannot afford to hire the services of a tax accountant, check locations in your area or go on the IRS website to find a VITA office near you.