VITA program offers free tax preparation

VITA program offers free tax preparation

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provided free tax assistance to the Los Angeles community in the Pierce College Business Building over the weekend.

The program will be offering free income tax preparation to help qualified individuals every Saturday until Mar. 26.

Several certified tax preparers were volunteering, according to Stefan Ignatovski, full-time professor and first-year supervisor of the VITA program.

“We have over 35 certified tax preparers volunteering to help with basic and advanced tax returns for people who make $53,000 or less a year taking place every Saturday.” said Ignatovski.

Shervin Sorooshiani, a 20-year-old sophomore accounting student and certified tax preparer was volunteering for his first time with VITA and is working in the program to gain experience in the field of tax preparation.

“I’m trying to gain some on the job training and some experience in offering income tax preparation services for my future career.” said Sorooshiani.

Waela Kayad, an accounting student at Pierce, volunteering with VITA for her second year as an intake interviewer, believes the volunteer tax preparation program is a great opportunity for tax filers seeking free and fast tax preparation service.

“The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is a great service,” Kayad said. “It’s free, it’s fast and returns are submitted directly to the IRS.”

It is recommended for income tax filers seeking the fastest return of their refund to provide the direct deposit information of their financial institution when filling out the intake application, according to Kayad.

“Individuals who elect to use direct deposit to collect their tax return should receive their refund within two weeks or less.” said Kayad.

Mikhail Ishchenko, a 41-year-old business student, advises those with dependents to bring in all receipts verifying proof of support, their W-2’s from any place of employment for the year that they are filing and a government issued photo ID verifying their identity.

“Filers should bring in with them all receipts showing proof of support for their dependents, their W-2 from their employer and a photo ID so that we may verify their identity.” said Ishchenko.

Provided by the IRS, and funded with Federal and State funds, Ignatovski believes that the VITA program is an excellent opportunity for taxpayers to see their money put to use.

“I think with the community coming here, they can actually see their tax dollars paying off, because we are being granted State and Federal funds,” said Ignatovski. “They can actually see their money put to work.”

The VITA program closed its doors at noon on Saturday, after serving a total of 64 customers the largest turnout the program has seen this year.