MSU Billings students help residents with their taxes
April 7, 2014
Dr. Debra Johnson, College of Business, 657-1606
Tabatha Butler, VITA Program, 247-4764
Carmen Price, University Relations, 657-2243
Sessions will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, from 2-8 p.m. and Friday from 2-5 p.m. at HRDC; and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Billings Public Library
Individual tax return deadline is April 15
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Accounting students from Montana State University Billings College of Business have partnered once again with Human Resources Development Council to offer community members assistance with preparing tax returns. The student accounting volunteers are part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which was established in 1969 by the Internal Revenue Service to assist low-income taxpayers with tax preparation services nationwide.
The program is offering four help sessions before the upcoming deadline of April 15 to file individual tax returns. No appointment is necessary. Sessions will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at HRDC, located at 7 N. 31st St. The last session will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Billings Public Library located at 510 N. Broadway.
Individuals who made less than $52,000 last year and are interested in free federal and state tax preparation assistant should bring their 2013 W-2 forms, other tax documents, social security cards and copies of their 2012 tax returns (if available).
At the sessions, accounting students will be available to prepare federal and state income tax returns and answer tax questions.
Last year alone, the VITA program helped prepare nearly one and a half million individual tax returns completely free of charge. The program also gives accounting students practical experience and college credit.
Ashley Chouinard, a junior in the accounting program, said the rigorous training the program provides, coupled with the real-world experience of helping actual clients navigate the tax code, is an invaluable learning experience for students, many of whom hope to become CPAs.
“The experience gives students an excellent opportunity to sharpen and expand their professional skills,” Chouinard said.
But, she said, the most rewarding part of the VITA experience is using these skills to help those in need.
“Learning the tax part has been great, but the best part is helping so many people,” Chouinard said. “There are a lot people who don’t know that by filing they are eligible for certain credits, like the Earned Income tax credit, for example. This is a great way to get someone reliable to help them."
Once students have prepared the tax documents, HRDC and VITA program managers review them before they are filed.
For more information, visit www.hrdc7.org/programs/volunteer-income-tax-assistance-vita/.
WHEN: Wednesday through Saturday, April 9-12.
WHERE: HRDC Wednesday through Friday, Billings Public Library on Saturday
WHAT: The VITA Program offers free tax help to those with low to moderate incomes ($52,000 and below). Certified student volunteers from MSU Billings receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in our community. First come, first serve…no appointments available.
Items to bring to the VITA site to have your tax return prepared:
- Photo ID
- Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents and/or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
- Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
- Tuition statement(s) (Form 1098-T) and university print-out of tuition and scholarship amounts
- A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
- Bank routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit
- Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's tax identifying number (the provider's Social Security Number or the provider's business Employer Identification Number)
- To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.
- See the note below for preparation of 1040NRs
Returns that contain the following items or Schedules cannot be prepared by our Volunteers:
- Any return with incomplete information.
- Any return with a prior year carryover.
- Schedule C: Expenses greater than $5,000; Depreciation; Shows a loss.
- Schedule D: Undocumented basis; Losses that are required to be carried over to the following year.
- Schedule E, Schedule F, Schedule H: Out of Scope
PHOTO ABOVE: Tabatha Butler, (right) an assistant program manager for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program with Human Resources Development Council, reviews tax documents prepared on Friday by MSU Billings accounting student Ashley Chouinard (left). Chouinard is one among a handful of MSUB College of Business accounting students who have been helping residents with their tax returns through the VITA program—a partnership between MSUB and HRDC. VITA is a national program that assists lower-income taxpayers with tax preparation.