Tax help is easy to find here

The deadline to file taxes is on April 17. For students who need help filing, Pierce College has a program that can ease the stress of tax season.

The school provides a resource for students free through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

Department Chair of Business Administration Martin Karamian said the program is sponsored by the IRS and benefits low-income taxpayers.

“It is for people who are low income that make $54,000 or less a year, and it is free of charge,” Karamian said. “We are sponsored by the IRS, so they actually support us financially to provide this service for free.”

Karamian said people must meet specific qualifications to receive tax help. Self-owned business owners, for example, are not eligible to participate in the program.

“This is for individuals who are either students, low-income earners, people with limited English or elderly people,” Karamian said.

Professor of accounting Stefan Ignatovski said this program helps his students practically apply what they are learning in class.

“I trained my students on how to prepare taxes for three weeks. And for the next seven weeks, they are preparing taxes for low-income families in the communities,” Ignatovski said.

The students assisting with the VITA program go through a process before they can participate in the program. Students become certified by the IRS after they complete an exam.

“It is very rare in a college that you take a class and apply for a job right away. Usually, you have to wait to graduate to get a job in accounting,” Ignatoski said.

Taltar Hanounek, an accounting student and tutor, volunteers for the VITA program and said it’s helpful and fun.

“I started volunteering for the VITA program last year. This is now my second year, and so far, it has been a great experience for me,” Hanounek said.

Appointments are not necessary for the VITA program. The service is first come first serve for all students and members of the community. Those interested can go to Business Building 3218 on March 10, 17 and 24, from 9 a.m. – noon to meet with volunteer tax income professionals.