Student volunteers offer help with income tax forms
Free income tax preparation is available at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, thanks to a group of student volunteers.
Beta Alpha Psi, an SIU College of Business honors accounting organization, is again sponsoring the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, VITA, program to assist fellow students and low- and moderate-income people from the community with tax returns.
On Saturday mornings through April 14, free tax preparation help is scheduled to be offered on the SIU campus.
From 8 a.m. until noon, people can come to the computer lab on the lower level of Rehn Hall, which is located at 1025 Lincoln Dr.
There will not be sessions on March 10 and 17 due to the university’s spring break.
Anna Li, Jing Mo and Jared Nicholas are coordinators for this year’s VITA program.
The students participated in advanced training to prepare for their leadership roles.
The free tax preparation service includes free electronic filing.
Each of the students is an IRS-certified volunteer tax preparer and has completed mandatory ethics and basic tax exam courses.
The VITA coordinators review all returns the students prepare and assist with more complicated questions.
Students have given assistance through the VITA program for more than 25 years. Student volunteers completed more than 300 tax returns last year, all at no charge.
Appointments are not necessary. Returns are typically completed in an hour or less. On average, the waiting time for help is no more than 15-30 minutes.
VITA assistance is open to any U.S. citizen, whether single or married, as long as their income is no more than $54,000 and they take the standard federal deduction.
Although there are a few specific tax situations which may go beyond the scope covered by VITA, the volunteers can assist with a number of typical tax situations including those involving wages and earnings from self-employment, interest and unemployment income, Social Security benefits, dividends and returns that involve child tax, education or earned income credits.
In order to take advantage of the VITA services, taxpayers need to bring with them legal identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, along with all of their current tax documents.
That includes W-2s, SSA-1099S, 1099-MISCs or 1098-Ts, as well as any other pertinent documentation.
Taxpayers should also bring their Form 1095-B or another proof of insurance in order to avoid the penalty for not having health insurance.
For more information, email the VITA coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org.