By M.J. Subiria Arauz
Clayton State University's accounting students are offering their assistance to eligible, area taxpayers who would like help preparing their income tax returns, as part of a national effort known as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
The local program is hosted by the university's School of Business, and offers free tax support for eligible taxpayers, who make an annual salary of under $49,000, according to university spokesman, John Shiffert.
The program, Shiffert said, does not provide assistance to taxpayers with out-of-state, or small business tax returns, or for those who are self-employed.
"Our highly trained volunteers are eager to begin working with the public in order to make their tax-preparation experience stress-free," added Judith Ogden, associate professor of business law, at Clayton State University.
Tax assistance will be offered on Saturday, March 26, from 9 a.m., to 1 p.m., at Clayton State University, 2000 Clayton State Blvd., Morrow, according to Shiffert.
People who would like to take advantage of the program, he said, should bring items, including photo identification, birth dates, wage and earning statements from all employers, and social security cards for themselves, their spouse and dependents.
Student-volunteers have had extensive Internal Revenue Service (IRS) training and testing, to execute returns, said Shiffert. Volunteers are able to complete the returns accurately and in a timely manner, and ensure that the taxpayer will receive appropriate tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit, he said.
The volunteers also prepare state income tax returns, and the program offers free e-filing options, Shiffert said.
"It gives our students hands-on experience, and provides a valuable service to the public," said Associate Professor Ogden. "We have taxpayers who return every year."
Shiffert added that Clayton State University is the only university in the state to have successfully participated in the program for 21 years.
For more information about the program, taxpayers should call the VITA hotline, at (678) 466-4527, said Ogden.