VITA Clinic relieves the burden of tax prep

two people happily sitting having a conversation
Daniel Valencia Corey Guerrero a San Fernando resident gets his tax's prepared by student Diana Rojas at Bookstein Hall on Monday afternoon. Csun VITA clinic offers free tax preperation for low income residents in the San Fernando Valley, prepared by certified and trained CSUN students. Photo credit: Daniel Valencia

Fall, winter, spring and summer are the seasons of the year, but we can’t forget about tax season. As a student, it can be a daunting task filing your taxes, especially without the assistance of a professional practitioner.

The VITA Clinic at CSUN helps low-income households file their taxes. It is available to students and families in the community.

“I have never filed my own taxes before,” said Santiago Larios, a junior majoring in communication studies. “I give it to my parents to do because they seem to know what they are doing when it comes to that.”

The clinic has been serving the public since 1970, and in 2017 has helped more than 6,000 taxpayers according to the annual report. Students who are supervised by professional practitioners and have also gone through training, and get certified by the IRS as certified VITA tax preparers do the tax preparation.

“Out of the 375 clinics throughout Southern California, the CSUN VITA Clinic was ranked first, outpacing the runner-up by more than 500 taxpayers served,” according to Director of the CSUN VITA Clinic Dr. Rafi Efrat, in the CSUN VITA Clinic 2017 Annual Report.

According to VITA Clinic coordinator, Lucy Nalbandian, the volunteers go through an in-depth training that consists of completing an online training program sponsored by the IRS, must successfully pass an “advanced” online certification test and attend a two-day, 12 hour (six hours per day) on-campus tax topic and tax software training.

There were 347 student volunteers in 2017. This tax season, it will increase to more than 430 volunteers.

Efrat and Nalbandian encourage students to take advantage of this free service, which Efrat believes will also develop an important bond between the student volunteer and student tax-payer through peer to peer exchange.

“[The clinic is] a great thing to be offered to students,” Larios said. “I think having the option would help students be more interested in the process and even try to gain better knowledge.”

The clinic is located in Bookstein Hall 1111.

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