Wading the muddy waters of tax time
This fear is sometimes brought on because of a lack of knowledge on how the tax filing system works as well as the substantial amount of time that goes into filing taxes. Students, however have various options in receiving assistance with filing their taxes and making sure they receive all the particular tax credits available.
In addition to classes, there are a number of free tax preparation programs available to students. According to Snavely, students have the option to seek free tax preparation assistance on campus through VITA, the IRS Volunteer Assistant Program which is available to those earning less than $49,000 per year.
As part of the VITA program, Snavely oversees a group of seven students majoring in accounting who are qualified volunteer tax preparers.
Besides the on-campus VITA program there are also other tax sites that are available in the community in aiding low to moderate-income individuals and families. AARP provides a volunteer based tax preparation site with certified tax preparers that is available to help with aiding people with filing their taxes.
According to Janelle Riedl, State Training Specialist with the AARP, they keep individuals in compliance with federal and state tax law. “We also provide verbal information on how to prepare taxes…an individual can sit in with the tax preparers to learn how to file their taxes,” she said.
Catholic Charities, which also participates through the VITA program, provides tax-filing aid to low to moderate-income individuals free of cost by their trained volunteers. According to the Catholic Charities website www.catholichcarisiesaz.org, last year their organization helped over 400 families and individuals to receive more than $450,000 in tax refunds.
Mary Ann Bivans-Grimm, owner of the H&R Block in Yavapai County said, “We offer a 14 week class in the fall that is open to the public for a cost of $250.”
“When the time comes for me to do my taxes by myself I will still want to have additional help…maybe doing some kind of classes that will better equip me with the necessary skills,” said Ashley York, an Associates of General Studies major.
“I usually do my taxes online with the help of my mom, but it’s not always easy to do my own taxes, not having the basic tax knowledge,” said Shelby Lichtenberger, a second year student at Yavapai and who also works part-time.
There are some students that feel that filing out their taxes is too time consuming. Sarah Attebery a General Arts major at Yavapai College said, “I have my mom or her accountant do my taxes…I want to eventually do my taxes on my own but I think it’s just finding the time to do it.”
Knowing the various procedures that is required in properly filing one’s taxes is imperative. According to www.irs.gov there are particular tax benefits available for students. Some of these credits include American Opportunity Credit, the Hope Credit and the Life Time Learning Credit. In order to receive these credits particular steps must be followed when completing or filling out the income tax forms.
According to Snavely, the on-campus site is open to provide tax help to qualified students and the community at large on Fridays from Noon to 5:00 p.m., free of charge right up until April 15, 2011.