Accounting Students Offer Free Tax Assistance
By Christine Vaughan
Helping to ease the sometimes confusing and costly process that many students face when filing their income taxes, a team of accounting majors has opened a free tax assistance clinic on campus.
The clinic, open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, offers facilitated self-assistance for eligible students to electronically file their 2014 federal and state returns. Working one-on-one with a volunteer tax coach, students input their own tax returns using an interview-based software program. To qualify for the free service, students must have a household income of less than $60,000.
“Hopefully we can take some of the mystery out of filing income taxes for students,” said Carol Cox, an accounting undergraduate who helps lead the tax clinic at CSUSM. “Having someone knowledgeable and available to coach you through the process is sometimes all a student needs to accurately and confidently file their taxes.”
Eleven accounting students, each certified by the IRS, staff the clinic and serve as volunteer tax coaches.
“It’s a win-win situation for our students,” said Maia Farkas, assistant professor of accounting. “Rather than be intimidated or overwhelmed by the process, students filing their income taxes can get expert advice from our trained accounting students, who in turn gain professional experience interfacing with clients.”
Offered this year as a pilot program, student organizers hope to expand the tax clinic in the future to include full service tax preparation services as a certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site.
To schedule an appointment, visit the CoBA Accounting website at www.csusm.edu/accounting.