“We know this opportunity will allow us to build camaraderie with the community,” said Chason Edelen, an accounting major and Albany, Ga., native. “We have a lot of people in Albany that are unbanked, as in they choose not to use a bank, that could benefit from the tax services.”
Walk-in sessions are underway and will last until April 14. Community members making $54,000 or less are encouraged to stop by the student-run tax workshops Monday – Thursday from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Peace Hall, room 122, on the ASU East Campus.
Alicia Jackson, dean of the College of Business, worked with 10 students to ensure each student was IRS certified. Students complete tax returns for clients and guarantee those that are filing receive the earned income tax credit, if eligible. The certification is a part of each preparer’s College of Business internship requirement.
“We spent four weeks of class time preparing the students to pass three certification tests: intake and interview, ethics and tax law. We also covered the tax software that we use to submit the tax information,” Jackson said. “We are certified in many areas of tax law, but we must refer clients to other professionals on more complex issues.”
All returns are reviewed by Jackson and Cakeitha Harris, prior to filing. Harris is an ASU staff member and current College of Business student. She served as a professional tax preparer for H & R Block for 10 years.
The student sessions are a part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. TCE serves to address the needs of individuals 60 years and older who may have concerns about pensions or retirement in regards to tax preparation.
“We would like for our communities to know that we are here, and we care about every aspect of their lives,” Harris said. “With the public’s participation in the VITA/TCE program with ASU, the students become encouraged and confident of the public’s belief and trust in them, their academic success and professional development.”
According to a 2016 National Society of Accountants study, the average tax prep fee is $176, for those with a 1040 and state return and no itemized deductions. With itemized deductions, the fee can exceed $450.
“The VITA program offers a wonderful opportunity for the ASU students to give back to the community and get to know community members as individuals. Nothing is more personal than sharing one’s financial information and some of the stories that accompany gaining that information,” Jackson said. “Usually, by the end of an interview, a camaraderie develops between the client and the student. In addition, the student gains a knowledge and skill set that can serve them professionally and personally for the rest of their life,”
Those interested in attending a session should bring the following documents:
- Proof of identification (photo ID)
- Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents
- An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for you, your spouse and your dependents if you do not have a Social Security number
- Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
- Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
- Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
- A copy of 2015 federal and state returns, if available
- Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check
- To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
- Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's tax identification number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
- Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements
- Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable