Campus: CSU, Northridge -- January 19, 2000

CSUN Students Offer Free Tax Help to Low Income Families, Individuals

It may only be the middle of winter, but Cal State Northridge business students warn that April 15 will get here at lot sooner than most people expect. They are offering free tax preparation assistance to low income families and individuals to make filing taxes as stress free as possible.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, offered through the university's College of Business Administration and Economics, will be available from Feb. 12 though April 14 at 15 centers throughout the San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles area.

More than 300 CSUN students spent the past year undergoing intensive training to deal with most of the basic problems taxpayers confront. They will be working alongside VITA supervisors who have taken a more advanced course that includes an update on new tax laws. In addition, IRS agents will serve as advisors at some VITA centers, reviewing tax forms before they are returned to taxpayers for filing.

These services are open to people who cannot afford professional tax help. Due to the large demand for tax assistance, eligibility is limited to those with a gross income of not more than $40,000.

Specialized services are provided for senior citizens and non-English speaking and handicapped individuals. For a specific list of tax forms prepared, call (818) 677-4519.

VITA coordinators suggest that taxpayers gather tax forms, W-2 forms, interest and dividend statements (1099-INT, 1099-DIV), receipts and records for deductions, a copy of last year's tax returns and any other related material to take with them to the VITA center.

Taxpayers are advised to arrive at the VITA center early to be assured of receiving assistance that day as no appointments are allowed.

The VITA program began in 1966 with a Congressional appropriation. In 1971, CSUN was the first university to institute the VITA program. Since then, CSUN has assisted colleges across the country in establishing their own VITA programs.

CSUN now maintains one of the largest, most successful VITA programs in the nation. Last year, Cal State Northridge students prepared more than 16,000 state and federal tax returns, saving taxpayers approximately $675,000.

For more information about the program or VITA centers, call (818) 677-4519.

California State University, Northridge has more than 27,000 full- and part-time students and offers 48 bachelor's and 39 master's degrees. Founded in 1958, it is the only four-year university in the San Fernando Valley.

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