What would you do if you were given $1.3 million? Would you possibly give it all away? That’s what 60 Southern Utah University students did during last year’s tax season and they are gearing up to give even more back to the community with the annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) this tax season.
Taking the stress out of this annual nationwide event, VITA will prepare for free your federal and state taxes if your household income is $52,000 or less per year. Each preparer is IRS certified volunteer and has completed basic and advanced training through the IRS.
Now in it’s 15th year, the VITA program helps more than 800 community members with the taxes and gives back on average $1.3 million back to those Iron County residents each year.
VITA already has begun for this tax season and will run every Monday through Thursday until April 13 from 5:30-9 p.m., except for holidays and Spring Break (March 10-14).
VITA began through a federal initiative to give low income families and individuals an opportunity to have their taxes properly filed more than 15 years ago and SUU professors decided to bring that to campus through his accounting students and in 2007 it began in full force with 50 plus students filing taxes and 10 upper-level accounting students overseeing and managing the program.
Robin Boneck, SUU accounting professor and faculty coordinator of VITA, stated of the influential program, “This program does give back millions to the community, but it also is pivotal for my accounting students. They spend at least 20 hours sitting side-by-side with community members and helping them in a way that they couldn’t do for themselves.”
Janelle Young, this year’s student manager and master’s of accountancy student, mirrored the statement saying, “VITA is a huge help to not only the community but to the University. Students and community members may come and file their taxes for free. It also gives the student volunteers communication skills and knowledge on tax laws that is hard to receive prior to graduation.”
Those desiring to have their taxes filed through VITA are asked to bring the pertinent documents to room 207 of the Dixie Leavitt Business Building. This is a walk in only site, so first-come-first-served. To see a list of all required documents visit www.suu.edu/events/2014/02/volunteer-income-tax-assistance.html.
Some issues with taxes require extra certification, to ensure that your taxes can be prepared by the SUU tax volunteers speak with the site greeter that a specialized tax consultant is currently on site. Examples of more complicated tax issues are those who have a health savings account, military members’ compensation or social security benefits.