Now in its third year, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is again available at the University of La Verne for local, eligible taxpayers to receive free tax services.
Through the support of adjunct faculty and students of the College of Business & Public Management, the IRS-sponsored community program helps low-to-moderate-income families and individuals that need assistance in preparing and filing their tax returns.
“The VITA program teaches students individual taxation and allows them to apply that knowledge in a real-life setting under the supervision of IRS agents,” said Abe Helou, dean of the College of Business & Public Management. “It is a great example of how civic engagement can be used to help those in the community and foster learning among students.”
Prior to preparing tax returns for the public, students become IRS-certified on income tax law and income tax preparation – also passing a code of ethics test. They then meet with community members and provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
To Adjunct Professor and IRS agent Jose Valdovinos, seeing the students overcome their first intimidating tax return and become comfortable in communicating with their clients is very rewarding.
“It (VITA) is an overall neat project and we’re grateful for the collaboration with the University and their providing the facilities, laptops and support necessary for us to complete all the returns that we do,” he said.
The program originated on campus when Senior Adjunct Professor Carolyn Payne and Adjunct Professor Maria Nieto were challenged to come up with an idea that would service both students and the community. Valdovinos, who teaches the Individual Taxation course for undergraduate students, soon joined them in running the program.
“Since we both work for the IRS, we thought it would be a great idea to start a VITA program here on campus,” said Payne. “It’s a win-win for students, the University and the surrounding community, so as the program grows and we get the word out, we will continue to provide this service for as long as we can.”
According to Nieto, the program affords students a great opportunity for community service and has helped students get jobs and internships with CPA firms simply because VITA was listed on their resumes.
Accounting major Darci Mardock serves as an excellent example. Mardock credits her gaining valuable experience with software and real-world, face-to-face interaction with clients to VITA and says it is what recently helped her secure a summer internship in Business Tax Services with Deloitte LLP.
“We want to thank the administration – Dean Abe Helou and Professor of Accounting Renee Miller – for the support that they gave and continue to provide us with,” said Nieto. “They said ‘Tell us what you need,’ then provided us with everything from laptops and flash drives to facilities and advertisements. They have just been so wonderful.”
The VITA program at La Verne is available on Saturdays to local, eligible residents through April 12, 2014. All tax preparation services are provided between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., at the College of Business & Public Management building located at 2036 Third Street in La Verne, 91750.
Scheduling an appointment time is strongly encouraged. While walk-ins are welcome, they will be served on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Those interested in additional information on the VITA program or seeking to make an appointment can call (909) 448-4028, ext. 5980, or email VITA@laverne.edu.
What is VITA?
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is an IRS‐sponsored community program that helps low -to- moderate-income (generally annual income is no greater than $50,000) families and individuals located in La Verne and surrounding communities.
What is the cost?
All volunteers are IRS certified and will assist with both e‐filing and paper filing at no cost to the taxpayer.
Hours (February 8 through April 12, 2014)
Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
How to make an appointment
You can make an appointment by calling (909) 448‐4028, ext. 5980 or by emailing us at VITA@laverne.edu. Walk‐ins will be accepted on a first‐come first serve basis.
What to bring to the first day of your appointment:
- Proof of identity (such as a valid driver’s license or other government issued picture ID)
- Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents and/or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
- Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
- Wage and earning statement (s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
- A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
- Bank routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit
- Total amount paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number ( the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number)
- Tuition Expenses
Where is the VITA site located?
University of La Verne
College of Business &Public Management Building
2036 Third Street, La Verne, CA 91750