Tax Preparation

SIU accounting college students provide free tax preparation providers

(Photo by Russell Bailey)

February 22, 2021

SIU accounting students offer free tax preparation services

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, IL – Free income tax preparation services will soon be available to many people thanks to a group of specially trained Carbondale students from Southern Illinois University.

Beta Alpha Psi, a business and analytics college, honors the student accounting organization and sponsors the popular free VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program for low and middle income community members in 2021.

“By attending VITA, students can gain useful knowledge, hands-on experience and provide valuable tax assistance to the community,” said Allison Bone, a Master of Accountancy student from Lincoln, Illinois who serves as the VITA 2021 program coordinator.

“VITA is often the first experience students have with preparing tax returns outside of classroom projects. By preparing and reviewing tax returns, we can expand the knowledge that we bring to our future careers. Community members are great to work with as they understand that we are still learning and they are very grateful that their taxes are paid for free. The combination of hands-on experience and community engagement creates a meaningful experience on which students can build and which can continue to help us in the future. “

Salukis have been providing this valuable charitable service for more than 25 years and help up to 200 or more people every year.

Starts March 6th

Free tax preparation assistance is available every Saturday from March 6 to April 3 in the computer room on the lower level of Rehn Hall at 1025 Lincoln Drive.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, state and campus security precautions are being followed. The protocols put a maximum of 50 people in the tax clinic at any given time and a requirement that all people present wear masks.

“We are excited to be able to offer this valuable service again and want to make sure that students and the community are safe,” said Benna Williams, professor at the School of Accountancy and former tax advisor serving as Beta Alpha Psi Advisor acts.

Williams said providing the service was a great way for SIU students to give back to the community while also gaining valuable hands-on experience.

Students are well trained for the job

Bone took part in training courses to prepare for her leadership role. She will lead a team of approximately two dozen accounting students who will donate their time and energy to prepare tax returns for community members and students who meet the qualifications. Each of the tax advisors is an IRS certified volunteer who has completed mandatory ethics and tax auditing courses.

Bone will review returns and assist with any questions, as will Williams and other members of the SIU faculty.

Who Qualifies?

The services are available to any US citizen, single or married, as long as their income does not exceed $ 57,000 and they are receiving the federal standard withholding.

Students prepare tax returns that include:

  • Wages / salaries.
  • Interest income.
  • Dividends received.
  • Government Tax Refunds.
  • Unemployment benefit.
  • IRA distributions.
  • Retirement income.
  • Social security benefits.
  • Simple capital gains or losses.
  • Income from self-employment.
  • Gambling winnings.
  • Education loans.
  • Earned Income Credits.
  • Child tax credit.
  • Limited individual prints.

Unfortunately, they can’t prepare tax returns for anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or tax returns that include:

  • Schedule C with losses.
  • Complicated capital gains and losses (Appendix D).
  • Non-deductible IRA (Form 8606).
  • Investment income from minors (Form 8615).
  • Determination of employee status for federal labor tax and withholding tax purposes (Form SS-8).
  • Bonus tax credits (Parts 4 and 5 of Form 8962).
  • Foreign returns.

What to bring

In order to be able to use the free tax preparation, all necessary documents should be brought with you. This includes a legal ID such as a driver’s license or a passport as well as social security cards and dates of birth (possibly also for spouses and relatives).

Also bring tax documents with you, including: all official wage, earnings, interest and dividend declarations and copies of last year’s tax declarations, if available. Individuals applying for a childcare loan must also bring the childcareer’s tax identification number (either the social security number or the employer’s identification number) and the amount paid for the childcare. Bring a blank check or other proof of forwarding bank account and account numbers for direct deposit if you are expecting a tax refund.

Fast work and filing included

VITA services are offered subject to availability. However, individuals may be asked to return later or the following week if necessary to maintain public safety or allow sufficient time for tax preparation.

Note that if a married couple is filing a joint return, they must both be present to sign the required forms. Most returns are made in an hour or less. The free electronic filing is included in tax preparation.

For more information, please email or call 618-453-1407.

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