In its 16th year of service to the community, Stan State’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program continues to help the area’s low-income and senior citizens feel confident about filing their income taxes.
The free program is a partnership between faculty, staff and students from Stan State’s College of Business Administration and Office of Service Learning, the Turlock Salvation Army and the Internal Revenue Service. It’s designed to assist low- to moderate-income families, disabled and elderly people who earned less than $54,000 in 2018.
This spring, the University is offering six weekly tax clinics to prepare federal and state tax returns. Saturday dates are Feb. 9 and 16, and March 2 and 30 from 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Friday dates are Feb. 22 and March 15 from 5-7 p.m. Each clinic operates up to seven tax stations, staffed by 12 to 14 students per clinic. All tax returns are done by appointment at the Turlock Salvation Army Community Center.
Training for the annual series of clinics began weeks ahead of time, as University students and alumni volunteers attended two weekend seminars to become certified VITA volunteers. The College of Business Administration also selects high-performing business students to serve as student leaders (VITA Scholars) to prepare tax returns and help the alumni program coordinator set up and run each of the tax clinics. The VITA Scholars provide leadership at the clinics and help manage appointments, client intake, community outreach and coordination.
Alumni from the University’s accounting program act as program coordinators, reviewers and support for the students engaged at the clinics. The alumni program coordinator meets regularly with the VITA volunteers before each clinic to review IRS updates and assess current clinic operations.
Over the past 15 years, more than 400 students have participated in this community project, which has returned nearly $3 million in tax refunds to the local community.
To make a VITA tax preparation appointment, call the Turlock Salvation Army at (209) 667-6091.