Stan State’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), now in its 15th year as a partnership of faculty and students from the College of Business Administration, continues to help the area’s low-income and senior citizens feel confident about filing their income taxes.
This spring, the University is offering six weekly tax clinics to prepare federal and state tax returns for households whose average annual income does not exceed $54,000. Upcoming clinic dates include February 23 and March 3, 17 and 24. 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.
Started by Dr. Steven Filling and Julie Fox of the Office of Service Learning, the program represents a continuing partnership between alumni, the Office of Service Learning, the Turlock Salvation Army and the Internal Revenue Service to provide free tax preparation.
In January, 43 University students and alumni volunteers attended two weekend seminars to become certified VITA volunteers. The College of Business supported the VITA Scholars program and selected seven high performing business students to serve as student leaders 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. VITA Scholars build on the program’s quantitative and qualitative data to gauge the program’s effectiveness and expand the program.
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.
In the spring of 2017, Stanislaus State student volunteers completed 93 federal and state tax returns that returned $150,041 back into the local community.
University efforts to leverage resources from the College of Business and dedicated program community partners over the past 15 years has allowed more than 405 students to participate in this community project, which has returned more than $2.73 million in tax refunds back into the local community.
To make a VITA tax preparation appointment, call the Turlock Salvation Army at (209) 667-6091.