Free Tax Filing Help at Your Local Community College

Free Tax Filing Help at Your Local Community College
April 15th is looming, but your local community college can help you file your taxes - for free! Learn about the programs that may be in your area to help with your filings with Uncle Sam.

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 various 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 and 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 known 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 several organizations to provide the assistance people need to file their basic income tax forms.

Most VITA stations are located in community places like libraries, schools, and shopping malls. Community colleges are another option for providing VITA services.

VITA helps many different groups of Americans file their taxes accurately and on time. Some of the people who 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

Elderly Americans can also get assistance with their tax returns. Still, 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.

Check the IRS website for more information on a VITA location near you. We also have examples of a few community colleges nationwide that offer VITA offices.

This video offers an overview of the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

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 offer tax assistance on campus on Tuesday evenings and Saturdays until the tax filing deadline. According to the Superior Telegram, the service is available to individuals making less than $50,000 annually and is not limited to the campus student population. This office can file returns electronically if both persons on the tax form can provide an original signature.

MCC-Maple Woods Community College

In Kansas City, residents who need help filing their tax returns can get it at the VITA office located on the campus of MCC-Maple Woods Community College. According to a report in 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. It will be open Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons through March and April, except during spring break. This school will serve individuals and families whose income does not exceed $49,000.

This video tells you how to earn certification for the VITA program.

Mount Wachusett Community College

Massachusetts residents can also access VITA services through Mount Wachusett Community College's campus. The trained volunteers are available Thursday evenings at the Gardner campus to assist in filing tax returns and offer information about tax benefits. They are also open Friday afternoons at the Leominster campus.

According to the Leominster Champion, individuals who need help are encouraged to make an appointment at the most convenient location.

Genesee Community College

In New York, Genesee Community College also provides 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 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 Genesee Community College to participate in 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.

Most Americans do not look forward to filing taxes, but for some, handling the process on their own is nearly impossible. If you are in this situation and cannot afford to hire a tax accountant, check locations in your area or go to the IRS website to find a VITA office near you.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @communitycollegereview

#VITA #communitycolleges #IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

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