Male student and woman sitting in front ot computers
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CSU Campuses to Expand No-Cost Tax Preparation Services

Christianne Salvador

Five Los Angeles-area CSU campuses receive state grant to help 15,000 Californians file their taxes.

Male student and woman sitting in front ot computers

​CSU student volunteers are providing tax preparation assistance to low-income taxpayers in local communities.


​​​​​​​​​​Tax season is officially underway and CSU students are making sure thousands of taxpayers get back what they deserve.

Student volunteers at 16 CSU campuses are offering tax preparation assistance at no cost through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The free services are available to individuals and families with low-to-moderate incomes, including the elderly, those with disabilities and/or those who lack English language proficiency.  

Each year, campuses partner with the IRS to train and certify VITA student volunteers, many of whom are business and accounting majors. VITA provides students with a real-world learning opportunity while building their credentials, making it as valuable a resource for them as it is for their clients.

“VITA gives our students practical experience in preparing federal and state income tax returns," says Sudha K. Krishnan, accounting professor at Cal State Long Beach. “They also learn how to behave professionally and communicate effectively, especially when extracting information from clients or giving bad news if their client has a tax payment instead of returns."

Californians who engage the VITA service through their local campus collectively receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal refunds every year, thanks to the work of student volunteers. At Humboldt State University, for example, 235 federal tax returns were prepared by HSU students, resulting in $178,338 returned to the community in 2019.

This year, to expand on the benefits of VITA, the state of California awarded a grant to five CSU campuses—Dominguez Hills, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge and Pomona—and six community colleges. The grant will extend free tax help at more than 40 sites in Los Angeles County. Approximately 1,000 student volunteers will be deployed to serve 15,000 taxpayers across these sites.

In addition to educating nearly half a million students and serving as cultural hubs in their respective communities, CSU campuses further demonstrate their added value to California's communities through programs like VITA. The university is developing tomorrow's leaders by empowering students to use their skills and knowledge to improve and enrich the lives of their fellow Californians.​

​​VITA services at a CSU ​campus near you​​

Free tax help is available throughout California​ with locations on and off CSU campuses. Visit a campus website for more details.