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VITA kicks off 24th year at Clayton State

Free tax prep program begins

MORROW — Accounting students from Clayton State University have returned to participate in this year’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program hosted by the College of Business.

VITA is a national program that gives low- to medium-income taxpayers free tax preparation services. It also operates as an experiential learning experience that provides student-volunteers with tax prep training.

College of Business Professor Judith Ogden, who has worked 16 years in VITA, is in her ninth year with the program at Clayton State. She said Clayton State is the only university in Georgia to successfully participate VITA for 24 consecutive years.

“Our highly trained volunteers are eager to begin working with the public in order to make their tax preparation experience stress-free,” said Ogden. “It gives our students hands-on experience, and provides a valuable service to the public.”

The free tax prep service is being offered in the Clayton Hall building at 2000 Clayton State Blvd. in Morrow, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturdays — specifically Feb. 1, Feb. 8, Feb. 15, Feb. 22, March 1, March 22, and March 29.

Eligible taxpayers who make $51,567 or less annually and want help with their 2013 personal income taxes using Forms 1040EZ, 1040A, and simple1040s are encouraged to consider the program.

United Way is partnering with the IRS this year to provide and expand the VITA program to sites around the state, said IRS spokesman Mark Green.

Green said taxpayers should remember to bring relevant information to help expedite the filing process. That information includes photo identification; Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration; and birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return.

Taxpayers should also bring wage and earning statements on Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers; interest and dividend statements from banks on Form 1099; total amount paid to a daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number; a copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available; and bank account routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit, such as a blank check.

Green said in order to file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

He said VITA volunteers also help inform taxpayers about potential tax credits for which they qualify, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

“The tax credits provide a financial boost for millions of hard-working Americans,” said Green. “The extra money can provide housing, education, open savings accounts, pay bills and even stimulate the economy.”

He said VITA helped get Georgia taxpayers $5.7 million in Earned Income Tax Credits last year, filing nearly 13,000 tax returns with refunds worth $16.8 million.

Ogden said taxpayers will be assisted on a first-come, first-serve basis at Clayton State. But those with questions may call the VITA hotline at 678-466-4527.

If Clayton State is not nearby, officials recommend using the VITA locator tool at www.IRS.gov, or call 1-800-906-9887 or 211, to find a site nearest you.