CHULA VISTA, California – The start of a new semester can be stressful. Add tax season to the mix, and it can be a recipe for a challenging time. However more than 40 Southwestern College students are helping to take the pressure off by providing free tax-preparation and filing services to fellow students, their families, and low-income community members.
For the fourth consecutive year, Southwestern College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax preparation services in English and Spanish at the Chula Vista campus. Through VITA, student volunteers gain more than 30 hours of tax-preparation training conducted by college partner South Bay Community Services. Student volunteers work one-on-one with service seekers to prepare tax returns, and a coordinator from South Bay Community Services files them. To qualify to assist, the students must pass a test administrated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Accounting Professor Maria Martinez-Sanabria oversees the VITA program. She says the number of people served has grown from 700 tax returns filed in year one of the program, a thousand the next year and 1,200 last year. Martinez-Sanabria expects that number to increase again this year.
Aileen Delosreyes is a first-year Business Administration student who saw the opportunity to volunteer with VITA as a win-win proposition.
“I thought it would be a good experience by helping people and a good way to start to build my resume,” Delosreyes said. “Plus, I think this will help me with my taxes for the future.”
Delosreyes, like the other 40 volunteers, is also learning how to use the IRS-supplied software. As a result, they will get a letter of recommendation from the IRS upon completion of the program. Twenty-two student volunteers are also earning business work experience credits through enrollment in Business 290 Work Experience.
“They are blossoming as they provide the community with service and giving themselves real-life experience that can lead to a job,” Martinez-Sanabria said,
VITA is available on a first-come, first-served basis to anyone who’s earned less than $57,000 during 2017.
Those interested in the services should bring:
- Tax documents (W-2s, 1099s, etc., and last year’s return if you filed)
- Social Security Cards for you and each family member you plan to report on your tax returns
- Married participants must have their spouse present
- Se habla español
Free parking is available on Fridays in Lot B. A parking permit is required on Mondays and Wednesdays and the permit can be picked up at the VITA site (Room 203). Park in student designated areas in LOT B only, white lines only.
- Mondays: Feb. 5, 12, 26 from 5-7 p.m.
- Wednesdays: Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28 from 5-7 p.m.
- Fridays: Feb. 2, 9, 23 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Mondays: March 5, 12, 19 from 5-7 p.m.
- Wednesdays: March 7, 14, 21 from 5-7 p.m.
- Fridays: March, 2, 9, 16, 23 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Mondays: April 2, 9, 16 from 5-7 p.m.
- Wednesdays: April 4, 11 from 5-7 p.m.
- Fridays: April 6, 13 from 10 am.-3 p.m.
Building 200, Room 203 (near the bus stop)
900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910
For more information, call 619-420-3620.