San Marcos,

CSUSM Offers Free Tax Prep to Students, Local Community

by Whitney Frasier

California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is helping to ease the tax maze for students and the local community by offering free tax preparation and assistance beginning March 5.

The two programs available are the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Mega Day, free and open to the public, and the Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) Tax Program, open to CSUSM students only.

“It can be easy for people to become frustrated by the complexities of the tax rules and forms, causing some taxpayers to simply not file a return,” said Alan Styles, chair of the Department of Accounting at CSUSM. “However, many of these non-filers may be missing out on receiving a tax refund from the earned income tax credit, putting more cash back in their pocket and avoiding future penalties.”

Both federal and State of California tax laws contain provisions for these tax credits, but whether or not the taxpayers qualify for the credit is based upon such factors as earned income, filing status and number of children.

“Our team of tax volunteers can help taxpayers navigate through the tax rules to determine whether they qualify for various tax benefits.” said Styles. “We have worked with the Board of Equalization and the Internal Revenue Service to provide this opportunity for different levels of assistance.”

Taxpayers utilizing the VITA Mega Day will work with student volunteers to prepare and submit federal and state tax returns. CSUSM students attending the FSA tax clinics, complete their tax returns under the guidance of an accounting student tax coach.

“This arrangement provides a win-win situation for taxpayers and accounting students,” said Styles. “The benefit to taxpayers is the guidance of IRS certified tax volunteers, while the students gain valuable experience through real-life work exposure.”

All questions should be directed to Maia Farkas, assistant professor of tax accounting, at

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Mega Day—Open to the Public

CSUSM, in collaboration with the Board of Equalization, will host a free tax assistance day for students and the local community, March 5. Volunteer tax preparers are certified by the Internal Revenue Service and will be onsite to prepare returns and answer common questions and concerns about filing taxes.

Those eligible for the free assistance must make $54,000 or less household income.

Appointments are not required, but strongly suggested. Walk-ins are assisted on first-come-first-served basis. Visit the Board of Equalization website to schedule an appointment for assistance or to call 1-866-910-9559 to make an appointment over the phone. Please read the common documents list below to ensure a complete tax return.

This event is sponsored by the College of Business Administration (CoBA).

What: Vita Mega Day: Free Tax Return Preparation

When: Saturday, March 5 from 10a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: California State University San Marcos

College of Business Administration

Markstein Hall, 3rd floor

Directions: Free parking is available in Lot F. CSUSM is located at 333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road in San Marcos. For more information or directions to the campus, visit

Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) Tax Program—Open to CSUSM Students Only

The FSA program offers free tax help to CSUSM students only, who generally make $54,000 or less in household income. The program is run by trained, certified accounting students under the supervision of the CSUSM Accounting Department. Registration is required. Please read the common documents list below to ensure a complete tax return.

What: Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) tax program

When: Every Monday and Wednesday beginning

Monday, March 7 through Monday, April 18

10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Where: California State University San Marcos

College of Business Administration

Markstein Hall, Room 435

Registration: Visit the Cougar Community website

Use password: csusmfsa15

*Please bring a laptop to the appointment

Common Documents Needed for Tax Prep

  • Proof of identification (photo ID)
  • Social Security cards for self, spouse and dependents
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for self, spouse and dependents if person does not have a Social Security number
  • Birth dates for self, 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)
  • All Forms 1095, Health Insurance Statements
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
  • Forms 1095-A, B or C, Affordable Health Care Statements
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable
  • W-2s for each job held in 2015 for each person in the household, this form reports name, wages, and other tax information to the IRS
  • 1099s showing other income (unemployment, social security, school loans, health care reimbursement, state tax refund, gambling winnings, contract work) that is reported to the IRS
  • 1098s showing payments made to school loans or property tax
  • Income/interest statements received for any savings account/investments
  • Bank account numbers: a voided check or your bank or credit union’s routing number and savings or checking account number for your refund to be deposited automatically into your account through direct deposit.

Directions and Parking

CSUSM is located at 333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road in San Marcos. For more information or directions to the campus, visit Visitors may purchase a daily or timed permit in any general parking lot utilizing the daily permit machines.

Contact Information
Office of Communications
Tеl: (760) 750-4010

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Whitney Frasier
Communications Specialist