The Business Institute at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC), one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges, continues its long-standing partnership with the Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW) to be an official community site for the federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).
This free tax assistance program is available to community taxpayers who made under $54,000 in 2015, the elderly, and those with disabilities or limited English speaking abilities. Eligible students and employees are also invited to participate in this service. Details can be found at estrellamountain.edu.
“This new partnership with A New Leaf organization is enabling us to expand our hours of operation to include both Fridays and Saturdays,” said EMCC Division Chair of Occupational Education, Clarissa Davis-Ragland. “We look forward to serving more people, more efficiently.”
To assist self-tax preparers, EMCC also provides an online option for free federal and state e-filing for those earning $62,000 or less. It can be accessed off the EMCC VITA site or directly at the MyFreeTaxes website www.myfreetaxes.com/emcc.
The EMCC VITA site is providing services every Friday and Saturday, February 5 through April 16, 2016, on the EMCC campus located at 3000 North Dysart Road in Avondale, in Mariposa Hall, Room 135. Hours of operation are Fridays from 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. No appointments are necessary.
NOTE: The site will be CLOSED Saturday, February 20 due to the Tale of Two Cities Parade and Festival hosted at EMCC, and Friday, March 18 and 19, 2016 due to Spring Break at all Maricopa colleges.
Davis-Ragland and EMCC Business Institute Adjunct Faculty Kortney Song have worked with the IRS and United Way representatives since 2010, providing an internship opportunity for EMCC Accounting students.
All VITA volunteers are required to be certified to prepare taxes. The certified volunteers help prepare, process and electronically file basic tax returns for personal income, and can also inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.
The student interns are trained through the EMCC accounting course, ACC 121, Income Tax Preparation, which was taught during the fall semester proceeding tax season, by EMCC Business Institute adjunct faculty, Kortney Song and Dr. Beverly Poellnitz. Successful completers receive the two levels of certification to be eligible for the VITA program. These EMCC students will be volunteering their expertise and time as part of their internship requirement.
“The VITA program highlights how EMCC develops coursework and builds cooperative partnerships in support of student learning and community service,” said Song.
In order to prepare taxes accurately and efficiently, the following items will be required by those utilizing VITA services:
*Social Security cards, IRS ITIN card or ITIN letter for all household members
*Picture ID for taxpayer (and spouses)
*Birth dates for all persons listed on the tax return
*Proof of all income, including W-2 and 1099 forms
*Name, address, and tax ID# of childcare provider
*Amount of money paid to childcare provider last year
*Account and routing numbers for direct deposit
*Copy of last year’s tax return, if available
*If filing jointly, both adults must be present to sign the return.
A toll-free MyFreeTaxes Helpline is also available during tax season at 1-855-My-Tx-Help (1-855-698-9435), from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.