It’s tax season and relief is being offered to busy, low-income students through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance at Glendale Community College, from now until April 13.
VITA is offered as a class at GCC that meets Saturdays. It is taught by Christy Kloezeman, accounting department coordinator, who took the program over from business professor Russ Norman in 1996. Norman brought it to the campus 15 years ago.
An IRS-sponsored program since 1996, VITA aids low-income students and the elderly in what might be an otherwise expensive and nerve-racking experience for them.
“We’re not professionals, and people who come here need to have patience,” said Kloezeman. VITA does simple returns such as 1040As and EZs, and state income taxes. VITA also electronically files federal taxes, guaranteeing checks within one month after filing.
According to H&R Block tax adviser Louis Constan, a professional tax service can take up to three to four months.
Kloezeman said that many students return each year for help.
“It gives my VITA students a chance to apply what they have learned, and they can hone their skills while helping at the same time,” she said.
One of about 20 accounting student volunteers, Ayres Marcella, 36, said, “It’s a good program. The more I volunteer, the more I catch on.”
Single people over 25 earning $10,000 per year, as well as married couples earning $20,000 with one to two children, are eligible for refundable earned credit.
Even a person does not owe taxes, he or she can receive that credit as a refund. Non-refundable credits such as child care and educational credits will only reduce one’s taxes to zero. Randy Taix, 27, a volunteer, works every Saturday and helps about three to five people, compiling their W-2s and other information. “Some people have multiple W-2s from different jobs. This can be time-consuming, but generally it takes one to two hours to help each person. I see a whole range of people, from students to divorced parents,” Taix said.
Taix said that this is the IRS’ way of reaching out to the community, because in the past, they have had “a negative image. The issue of taxes is complicated and intimidating,” said Taix. “I’m astonished that people have paid $100 for a simple return that we do for free. It feels good at the day’s end to know I helped someone who was overwhelmed.”
The site is open through Saturday and from April 6 to 13 from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m. For appointments, call (818) 551-5268. VITA is located in SR 224. Walk-ins are allowed, but preference will be given to those with an appointment.
Students must bring this year’s tax booklet, all W-2 forms, 1099s and all other income information.