MSUB accounting students to help community with tax filing
January 26, 2016
Dr. Debra Johnson, College of Business, 657-1606
Mary Beth Shay, VITA Program, 247-4760
University Relations and Communications 257-2266
Story by Blair Koch, University Relations and Communications intern
Volunteers will be available Wednesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — April 15 may be a few months away but it’s not too early to think about filing your income taxes, especially if the U.S. Internal Revenue Service owes you some money.
Many Montana State University Billings students probably qualify to have their taxes e-filed for free and a refund direct-deposited into your bank account.
As in years past, MSUB accounting students have partnered with the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) to provide tax-filing assistance to the community through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
VITA is a nationwide service established in 1969 by the IRS and provides tax preparation services to low-income filers.
Beginning Wednesday through April 15, VITA volunteers will be at HRDC, located at 7th N. 31st St., several times a week and available to complete tax returns for both walk-ins and scheduled appointments. Volunteers will be available Wednesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This year, 13 students from the MSUB College of Business will volunteer and become certified through the VITA program, which utilizes IRS-provided tax-filing software.
Debra Johnson, COB professor, explained the yearly volunteering opportunity provides excellent experience for the accounting students as well as sound and secure tax-filing for students and other community members.
“We always get overwhelmingly positive comments from both clients and students,” Johnson said. “And when our accounting students go out and look for a job, this is the kind of experience that employers are looking for.”
VITA Site Coordinator Mary Beth Shay, who works at HRDC, said they hope to assist 2,500 tax-payers in the Billings area, but tax-preparations service sites are set up around the state.
She indicated that there will be a rush of taxpayers filing returns in the first few weeks the site is open but typically a lull occurs in mid-February through mid-March.
“We are full, as far as appointments go, the first couple of weeks, but are still taking walk-ins. They may just have to wait a bit,” Shay said, suggesting that taxpayers make an appointment or wait a few weeks before dropping by HRDC headquarters.
Shay also said the organization could also use more volunteers.
“Basically, we need 30 people at the site every day it’s open,” she said. “But, it’s easier if you’ve had experience doing your own taxes or have had some experience,” she said. “Everyone has to do online training and become certified, whether you want to be a greeter or a tax preparer.”
Regardless of whether you wait a few weeks to file your tax return or want it done right away, it’s important to know whether you qualify for the service and remember to bring all the right paperwork.
If you made less than $60,000 in 2015, the IRS allows taxpayers to file their taxes for free, utilizing their software.
For more information, visit montanafreefile.org or call HRDC VITA site coordinator Mary Beth Shay at 247-4760.
Documents to bring to your appointment
- Valid picture identification
- Completed intake/interview sheet
- Social security cards for you, your spouse, and all dependents
- All tax forms received, including W-2s, 1099s, and 1098s
- December credit union and/or bank statements
- Information about any other income you may have received during the year
- Last year's tax return
- Routing and account numbers for direct deposit
- For MT taxpayers over the age of 62: property tax receipts or rent receipt
Documentation for the following deductible items:
- Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses
- Charitable contributions
- Amounts paid for property taxes
- Tax return preparation fees
- Mortgage interest paid
- Real estate tax paid
- Student loan interest paid
- Amounts paid for you, your spouse, or dependents for higher education during the year
- Any amounts paid for child and dependent care expenses along with the provider's name, address, and tax identification number
Returns that contain the following items or Schedules cannot be prepared by VITA 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