More than 90 business administration students are providing free tax return preparation through Cal Poly’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The clinic, which began Feb. 1, is hosted at Cal Poly every Saturday from through March 14, from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. 

The VITA program is a tax service open to individuals and families in the community with annual incomes of $56,000 or less. The clinic is a capstone course for accounting seniors, sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service and the California Franchise Tax Board.

The clinic takes place on the third floor of the Orfalea College of Business Building (Bldg. 3) at Cal Poly. Volunteers will also host clinics at Oceano Elementary School in Oceano and Allan Hancock College Community Education Center in Santa Maria. 

No appointments are necessary, however, students and community members are encouraged to come by before 1p.m. to ensure accurate completion of their returns.

All tax returns are filed by Cal Poly accounting students and checked by Cal Poly faculty members and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Each student has gone through training and has passed the IRS and FTB volunteer exams.

There are 96 students in the program and four supervisors, along with several on site Certified Public Accountants. Each Saturday around 80 tax returns are completed, totaling to over 500 returns, according to the Cal Poly VITA program director and business administration professor, Trisha Daughtrey. 

“Tax season can be overwhelming for the general public so it’s nice to be able to run this program that takes away that stress for most of our clients,” Daughtrey said. “Plus, the clients that qualify for our services will usually be receiving a refund which always makes them happy.”

The program not only aims to help business administration students, but people who cannot afford to get their taxes done by a CPA. 

“Students participating in the program get real world experience, which helps them when they work for public accounting firms,” business administration senior Grigor Barsegian said. “The VITA program is aimed at individuals making $56,000 a year or less this program helps those individuals save money.”

Compared to online services such as TurboTax, the VITA program can offer a more personal solution to tax season stresses, according to business administration senior Amanda Gile. 

“I prefer talking with the students if I have questions rather than trying to solve problems on my own,”Gile said. “It’s super convenient as a student on campus.”

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