Help available on campus and in the community

Looking for a way to reduce the stress of tax season? CSU Monterey Bay student participants in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – VITA – program may have an answer.

On March 2, student volunteers from the School of Business will provide free assistance with state and federal income tax preparation. The service will be provided in Valley Hall, Suite D, Room 115, on the university campus. Driving directions and a campus map.

The VITA program is sponsored by United Way Monterey County. The service is available at nine county locations in addition to CSUMB.

Student volunteers are working at most of those sites. All volunteers have completed a training course and have been certified by the IRS.

Taxes will be filed electronically, expediting the refundFamilies and individuals who earned less than $57,000 in 2012 are eligible. Filers must bring photo identification, Social Security card or ITIN card for workers and all family members, their W-2 and 1099 forms and a copy of last year’s return. It's not necessary to make an appointment.

Tax forms will be filed electronically. If a refund is due, it will be deposited in the taxpayer's account in approximately 10 days.

According to Dr. Cathy Ku, professor of accounting at CSUMB, “It’s a good service learning opportunity for students. The first year – 2010 – five students participated. In 2011, 20 students volunteered at eight locations in the county and helped families claim $1 million in refunds.

“Last year, the number of volunteers grew to 42, and they provided services at nine sites.”

According to United Way, last year volunteers completed more than 1680 free tax returns and claimed more than $2.6 million in refunds for local residents.

“Business students made up about 37 percent of all of last year’s volunteers, contributing our expertise to stimulate our local economy,” Dr. Ku said.

While all students passed the required basic certification course, last year, “10 students and I passed the intermediate level course,” said Dr. Ku. “That’s why we were able to set up a VITA site at CSUMB.”

The United Way emphasizes that the program is free to those who qualify.

According to the organization’s website, there is no charge for the tax preparation, no charge for direct deposit to the taxpayer’s bank account and no hidden fees. A list of community locations, dates and hours, is available on the United Way website.

Learn more about CSUMB's School of Business.