WILMINGTON – As tax season approaches, 23 students at Wilmington College look forward to helping area residents prepare their annual tax returns.
The IRS-certified, voluntary tax advisors will again offer this service as part of the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Wilmington College is home to a VITA site that provides tax assistance to low and middle income individuals, generally less than $ 58,000, as well as taxpayers with disabilities.
In the past year, students again secured a 100 percent IRS rating when completing tax returns – free of charge – as a non-profit service that offers accounting and business majors and other participating students a valuable hands-on learning opportunity. Toilet students completed a record 205 returns in 2019 before the last two pandemic years began to affect the number of returns the site was able to process.
Allen Beatty, CPA, Assistant Professor of Accounting and IRS Enrolled Agent / Site Manager, will again oversee the group, which consists of 10 tax advisors and 13 greeters as well as other people involved in site logistics. Also helping out is Tabby Williamson, an associate faculty member who, as a student in 2017, completed her first tax return using WC’s inaugural VITA site.
Beatty noted how impressed both he and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) were with the local program’s first five years.
He cited the professionalism of his highly motivated VITA students. “That goes beyond professors and students,” he said. “I see them as colleagues, like when I was back in the corporate world.”
Beatty said WC’s VITA site will be open February 7th through April 7th, except during the college’s spring break on the week of March 14th. The site by appointment will be available every Monday and Thursday evening from 5pm to 8pm
Appointments can be made by leaving contact information either via WC’s dedicated VITA site phone number at 937-481-2296 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A VITA team member will contact the inquirer from January 10th.
Students offer qualified individuals a basic income tax return with electronic filing. This benefit generally includes the basic pensions of employees (W-2) and retirees (1099-R and social security), which may also include additional forms of income such as interest, dividends (1099-INT, DIV) and unemployment (1099-G).
The creation of a limited number of individual returns (Appendix A with mortgage loan, interest, charity donation, medical expenses, etc.) will also be available, along with those with popular credits such as child tax credit, income credit, retirement credit, etc. Also, students with taxpayers work that claim capital gains and losses, as well as income from self-employment, in addition to
able to make limited returns for small businesses. The creators have additional know-how in dealing with health savings accounts.
Following the recent increase in the standard deduction, VITA employees check receipts and documents to advise whether their customers should list deductions individually.
This year VITA is working under the CDC and other safety guidelines, which require face masks from all volunteers and taxpayers, socially distanced tax preparation with additional distance between tax auditors and taxpayers and a disinfected wipe after each appointment. Face masks are provided free of charge for those who cannot bring a mask.
This year, taxpayers are required to bring all the documentation such as IRS Notice 1444 or bank statements for any stimulus or pandemic relief checks received last spring.
Two other changes to the CARES Act allow taxpayers to deduct $ 300 ($ 600 for joint applicants) in charity donations by cash, credit card, or check without listing it as a “surplus adjustment”.