Tax season is a very stressful time of year. Southwestern College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is here to help alleviate the stress. More than 30 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 fifth consecutive year, Southwestern College’s 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 administered 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, to over 1,256 people served last year. Martinez-Sanabria expects that number to increase again this year.
Collette Ojeda, a Southwestern College Police Department employee, is thankful for the program because of the assistance it provided her son.
“My son who attends SWC did his tax return with them last year and was very happy with the service,” Ojeda said. “We truly appreciate it.”
The student volunteers learn how to use the IRS-supplied software. As a result, they receive a letter of recommendation from the IRS upon completion of the program. VITA has student volunteers who are also earning business work experience credits through Southwestern College.
“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 $55,000 during 2018.
Free parking is available on Fridays in Lot B. Participants are asked to park in student designated areas in LOT B only and only in spaces with white lines.
For more information, call 619-420-3620.
Those interested in the services should bring:
- Tax documents (W-2s, 1099s, etc., and last year’s return, if you filed)
- Social Security Cards or ITINs for you and each family member you plan to report on your tax returns
- A blank check for direct deposit of your refund
- Married participants must have their spouse present
- Se habla español
Friday: Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday: Feb. 23 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Fridays: March 1, 8, 15, 22 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturdays: March 2, 9, 16, 23 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Fridays: April 5 & 12 from 10 am.-3 p.m.
Saturdays: April 6 & 13 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Building 200 (near the bus stop), Room 203
900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910