CSUN Students Provide Free Tax Preparation Assistance for Low-Income People
Students aim to ease tax time stress for residents in San Fernando Valley

CSUN students will be providing free assistance with state and federal tax preparation to low-income individuals and families from Jan. 28 through April 15 at CSUN and satellite locations throughout the San Fernando Valley. Photo by Lee Choo.

California State University, Northridge (CSUN) launches the 2017 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Clinic, offering free assistance with state and federal tax preparation to low-income individuals and families, including non-English speakers, people with disabilities and veterans, from Jan. 28 through April 15 at CSUN and satellite locations throughout the San Fernando Valley.

The program is staffed by IRS-certified student volunteers and will be available to taxpayers six days a week at CSUN’s campus and nine additional locations – including sites in Panorama City, Sylmar, Pacoima, Sun Valley, the City of San Fernando, Van Nuys and North Hills. A list of locations, dates and times can be found on the CSUN VITA website at http://www.csun.edu/bookstein-institute/csun-vita-clinic.

“VITA aims to provide an excellent quality, cost-free tax preparation service for the low-income community in the San Fernando Valley, as well as an excellent experiential learning opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students here at CSUN,” said accounting professor Rafi Efrat, director of the CSUN VITA Clinic and the university’s Bookstein Chair in Taxation. “We are pleased to be supported by Citigroup and the office of Sen. Robert Hertzberg to reach low-income residents in the City of San Fernando.”

The CSUN VITA Clinic is supported by accounting leader Harvey Bookstein and his wife, Harriet, Citigroup, City National Bank, the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, CSUN Associated Students, the United States Department of the Treasury and state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys). This year, Hertzberg and his staff have worked with community leaders to greatly increase participation among San Fernando Valley residents.

There are over 100,000 households in the San Fernando Valley that are eligible to receive the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The Federal EITC is a refundable credit available to low-income individuals and families worth up to $6,269. The CSUN VITA Clinic plans to assist as many as 4,000 people filing their tax returns this year.

“With more than 100,000 residents eligible for the EITC in the San Fernando Valley, the need to ensure that Valley residents can access valuable tax credits through free, high-quality tax preparation services is great,” said James Alva, Southern California market manager, Citi Community Development. “Through this initiative, the CSUN VITA Clinic will expand services in the Valley and provide access to tax credits and financial coaching that can bolster the financial resilience of students and residents.”

“The CSUN VITA Clinic has done terrific work in the past,” Hertzberg said. “We’re doing everything we can to get the word out about this valuable service, so every low-income Valley resident has the opportunity to take advantage.”

The clinic accepts walk-ins, but taxpayers are highly recommended to schedule an appointment through its website. A list of documents and forms of identification taxpayers must bring to their session can be found online. In addition to tax preparation services, CSUN VITA can assist taxpayers in completing applications for subsidies offered by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Southern California Gas Company to low-income filers.

The maximum gross income limitation per tax return has been set at $54,000. However, the CSUN VITA Clinic cannot serve certain taxpayers with complex returns. A complete list of returns that cannot be completed by the CSUN VITA Clinic can be found online.

Last year, CSUN served over 3,600 taxpayers, generating over $3.6 million in refunds to low-income taxpayers and $1.1 million in low-income tax credit.

For more information about the CSUN VITA Clinic, call (818) 677-3600 or email VITA@csun.edu.

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