CSUN’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Clinic is now offering free tax services for those with low-income.
Rafi Efrat, the Bookstein Chair in Taxation and Director of the CSUN VITA Clinic, said the clinic was the first one of its kind. The clinic was created in 1970 at CSUN, but now there are more than 5,000 sites nationwide.
“Undergraduates and graduate students have the opportunity to develop important clinical skills that help them transition to the workforce,” Egret said. “Not only do our students get trained with the knowledge of basic tax law, but also with the responsibilities of being professional.”
In order to become a volunteer at the clinic, students must be enrolled in either accounting 292 or 392. Accounting 292 is for those who want to become a tax preparer and 392 is for those who would like to be a supervisor. Students who have already volunteered for the VITA program can also become supervisors.
Besides accounting majors, students majoring in finance, management, and marketing also sign up for the course to be a volunteer at the clinic.
Professor Lucy Nalbandian, who is a part of the VITA faculty, said the clinic has two goals.
“The first goal is that we want to provide tax technical knowledge and learning experience to all of our student volunteers,” Nalbandian said. “The second is we want to provide outstanding, professional, free of cost tax services to the low-income taxpayers of our community.”
Garnik Karapetyan, an accounting major, is a student volunteer for the clinic and prepares taxes.
“It is rewarding because this is my professional field and it is like a kick start for myself. I get to meet people with different tax problems,” Karapetyan said. “For example, I had someone come in with a social security income but I had never done that. With the help of other supervisors, I learned what to do.”
Karapetyan mentioned he had to complete an online certification examination in order to be a tax preparer prior to the start of the spring semester.
The clinic is also reaching out to different groups on campus such as the Veterans Resource Center, the International Student’s Association, the Educational Opportunity Program and more. Efrat also mentioned the clinic will have days set aside for different colleges on campus for students to do their taxes.
Last year the clinic served about 3,000 students, and this year their goal is to serve 4,000 taxpayers Efrat said. Last year over 600 CSUN students completed their taxes at the clinic, and their goal this year is to increase it to 1000 students, according to Efrat.
There are more VITA clinics located in Sylmar, Panorama City, Van Nuys, Pacoima, Sun Valley, City of San Fernando, North Hills and Canoga Park.
The clinic schedule is Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursday 6 p.m.-10 p.m and Friday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.