California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is helping to ease the tax maze for students and the local community by offering free tax preparation and assistance beginning March 5.
The two programs available are the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Mega Day, free and open to the public, and the Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) Tax Program, open to CSUSM students.
“It can be easy for people to become frustrated by the complexities of the tax rules and forms, causing some taxpayers to simply not file a return,” said Alan Styles, chair of the Department of Accounting at CSUSM. “However, many of these non-filers may be missing out on receiving a tax refund from the earned income tax credit, putting more cash back in their pocket and avoiding future penalties.”
Both federal and State of California tax laws contain provisions for these tax credits, but whether or not the taxpayers qualify for the credit is based upon such factors as earned income, filing status and number of children.
“Our team of tax volunteers can help taxpayers navigate through the tax rules to determine whether they qualify for various tax benefits.” said Styles. “We have worked with the Board of Equalization and the Internal Revenue Service to provide this opportunity for different levels of Taxpayers utilizing the VITA Mega Day will work with student volunteers to prepare and submit federal and state tax returns. CSUSM students attending the FSA tax clinics, complete their tax returns under the guidance of an accounting student tax coach.
“This arrangement provides a win-win situation for taxpayers and accounting students,” said Styles. “The benefit to taxpayers is the guidance of IRS certified tax volunteers, while the students gain valuable experience through real-life work exposure.”
All questions should be directed to Maia Farkas, assistant professor of tax accounting, at firstname.lastname@example.org.