Students from Cal State San Bernardino’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program are offering free income tax preparation for eligible taxpayers through April 18 at various locations throughout the Inland Empire.
Tax preparation for low-income and elderly taxpayers who have a maximum income of $60,000 is available at four San Bernardino County locations. The service is sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service and the California Franchise Tax Board.
“The CSUSB VITA program started more than 30 years ago offering services one afternoon a month at the former Central City Mall in front of J.C. Penney,” said Janet Courts, CSUSB accounting lecturer and coordinator of the VITA program. “This year, we have the most competent group of preparers ever. Our students are amazing, preparing simple to complex returns with a 99 percent accuracy rate.”
The student volunteers, most of whom are CSUSB accounting majors, are certified by the IRS at the advanced level in order to prepare federal and California resident tax returns, including those with pension income, itemized deductions, federal and California earned income credit, education credit, dependent care credit and child tax credit. The students are also trained to handle sales of stock, some types of self-employment, and many issues related to the Affordable Care Act. All returns prepared by students are subject to several levels of review by professionals before the returns are transmitted electronically to the IRS and state Franchise Tax Board.
The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15 date. Washington, D.C., will celebrate Emancipation Day on that Monday, which pushes the deadline to the following Tuesday for everybody, including California.
This year’s free tax assistance is offered at the following locations and no appointment is necessary:
Fridays, through April 14, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at:
- Family Resource Center, 1525 W. Highland Ave., San Bernardino.
Saturdays, through April 15, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at:
- Feldheym Library, 555 W. 6th, San Bernardino;
- Villa Del Norte Community Center, 9997 Feron Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga; and
- Fontana Boys and Girls Club, 7723 Almeria Ave., Fontana (note different hours, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.).
“This year we are thrilled to welcome experienced CSUSB alumni as supervisors at our four off-campus sites on Fridays and Saturdays. Thirty-eight students have been scheduled to work more than 4,200 hours preparing taxes,” Courts said.
Every year, CSUSB volunteers work more than 5,000 hours preparing nearly 1,700 federal and state tax returns, which bring more than $1.5 million in refunds back to the local economy.
Taxpayers who wish to participate in this program must bring valid photo identification and Social Security or ITIN cards for each taxpayer, as well as for all dependents claimed. There are no exceptions to this IRS rule. Taxpayers must also bring W-2s, 1099s and other pertinent tax documents. Both husband and wife must be present to sign joint returns. Free electronic filing is available.
Volunteers are unable to prepare tax returns for nonresident aliens, including those with a student visa; small business owners with employees, inventory, or depreciable assets; owners of rental property; people who declared bankruptcy during 2016, married people filing separately or taxpayers with more than $60,000 of income.
The VITA program is made possible through the generosity of the Family Resource Center, Fontana Boys and Girls Club, Norman Feldheym Library, the Northtown Housing Development Corp. and the San Bernardino Unified School District.
Other partners and sponsors include CSUSB’s Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration, CSUSB’s Accounting Advisory Board, and the Business Alliance. Also included are the CPA firms of Eadie and Payne; and Smith Marion & Co.
For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.
In the photo: Yamie Moreno, CSUSB student and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance preparer, and Joan Krtzberg, VITA program coordinator go over forms last year at the Family Resource Center in San Bernardino. Photo: Robert A. Whitehead/CSUSB