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Free tax assistance available from CSU students

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

Accounting students from Clayton State University's (CSU) School of Business are currently participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, which is a national program that provides free tax support for certain eligible taxpayers.

The service will be offered at the Clayton State School of Business, on the following Saturdays: Feb. 26, March 19 and March 26, from 9 a.m., until 1 p.m., according to John Shiffert, director of University Relations.

"Taxpayers will be assisted on a first-come, first-serve basis," the school spokesman said.

According to Shiffert, those who are eligible to receive this service are taxpayers who make under $49, 000 per year, and wish to receive help with their 2010 personal income taxes.

"The program does not provide assistance with out-of-state, or small business returns, or for those who are self-employed," Shiffert said.

"Our highly trained volunteers are eager to begin working with the public, in order to make their tax preparation experience stress-free," said Associate Professor of Business Law, at CSU, Dr. Judith Ogden.

"We have seen a significant increase in taxpayers coming to have their taxes done over the last three years," said Ogden.

"Last year we did over 160 [tax] returns over six Saturdays."

"We have many people who come back every year," she added.

VITA has been in existence for 37 years, and provides volunteers with extensive Internal Revenue Service (IRS) training and testing, according to Shiffert.

Clayton State is the only university in the state of Georgia that has successfully participated in the VITA program for 21 years, Shiffert said.

"The volunteers can ensure that taxpayers will have their tax returns filled out accurately and timely, and receive the tax credits they qualify for, such as Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit," said the university spokesman.

Shiffert added that students can benefit from having VITA volunteers prepare their taxes, because the volunteers are trained in the recent changes to the credits available for tuition, and other school-related expenses.

"The VITA program also prepares state income tax returns, and provides free e-filing options to ensure clients receive their refunds as soon as possible," Shiffert explained.

Persons interested in having their taxes prepared at the university, through the VITA program, should bring the following items to the sessions:

photo identification

Social Security cards for themselves, their spouse, and dependents

birthdates

wages and earnings statements from all employees

interest and dividend statements

other relevant information regarding income and expenses, including day care costs

a copy of last year's federal and state tax returns if possible

bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit

Shiffert said spouses will need to be present, at the sessions, to file electronically.

"Clayton State's VITA volunteers look forward to helping the community, and making this another successful year with VITA," said Dr. Judith Ogden.

For more information, call the VITA hotline at (678) 466-4527, visit CSU's facebook page by searching "VITA for Clayton State," or http://business.clayton.edu/jogden/volunteer_income_tax_assistance%20webpage.htm.