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.

Federal tax refund checksUntil the end of tax season, volunteers from the College of Business will provide free assistance with state and federal income tax preparation.

The VITA program is sponsored by United Way Monterey County. The service is available at eight county locations, including the Marina library where students are on duty noon to 3 p.m. every other Saturday from Feb. 22 to April 5.

All volunteers must pass the rigorous Internal Revenue Service examinations to participate.

Families and individuals who earned less than $57,000 in 2013 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; in 2012, the number of volunteers grew to 42.

Last year, 16 students and Dr. Ku worked as volunteers, accounting for approximately 20 pecent of the total number of participants in the program countywide. The CSUMB contingent helped approximately 335 families secure refunds of $462,000, money that helped to stimulate the local economy.

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 College of Business.