Free tax filing provided to all students

by Stephanie Saccente

02_18_13_News_TaxLecture_ACRun by the Internal Revenue Service, San Diego State’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program  aid students, foreigners and local community members with preparing and filing their taxes. The program, which is meant to help middle and low-income taxpayers who earn $55,000 or less will take place on campus from Feb. 19 to April 12.

VITA faculty advisor Gene Whittenburg said the program has been going on for at least 38 years at SDSU. The event is led by SDSU undergraduate and graduate accounting volunteer students who received tax preparation training through the IRS. Students who participate in the program receive a one unit credit/no credit for completing the program and volunteering.
“We go through proper procedure,” Whittenburg said. “We do intake, we do review, we do proper prep. We do it as they would do it in a CPA firm, we follow all of the regular procedures.”

Accounting graduate student and student coordinator Doug Kelley got involved with the program three years ago and worked at VITA sites on campus as well as other sites in the neighboring community.  With a master’s specialization in taxation, Kelley said he wanted to get more involved in the accounting field and network, as well as help the community. He also said he’d like to see the numbers for this year surpass last year’s numbers.
“Whereas last year I just prepared tax returns, this year I’m monitoring the on campus site,” Kelley said. “I will be a leader in the sense that I have people to take care of and have to make sure the site is run properly.”
Faculty coordinator and accounting assistant professor Steve Gill encourages international students to sign up and file their tax returns. SDSU is the only university in San Diego County offering help to foreign students, according to Gill.
“I think the student clients will remain largely foreign students who come here and, for one reason or another, have triggered some sort of tax liability or some sort of tax situation,” Gill said. “Because they’re international, they know nothing of the U.S. tax situation. We would rather help them than see them flounder.”
For more information about VITA and preparation dates and times, visit cbaweb.sdsu.edu/vita