St. Bonaventure University accounting students are setting up for a tenth year of offering free tax services for qualifying taxpayers.
After several years at the Olean Center Mall, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has moved to the United Way office at 807 W. State St., next to NAPA Auto Parts and across the street from Raymour & Flanigan.
The St. Bonaventure University VITA program officially opens its tax preparation site at the Olean United Way office on Monday, Jan. 28. The office will remain open until March 26. Operating days are Monday through Saturday, with morning, afternoon, and evening appointment times available.
To qualify for free tax return preparation and electronic filing, Cattaraugus County workers must have a family income of $50,000 or less. Candidates will go through an entrance interview to see whether they qualify for free assistance. Those who qualify must bring a valid photo ID, Social Security cards, all W-2 forms, and Forms 1099 to the tax preparation appointment.
The St. Bonaventure VITA site is an innovative, high-volume program that operates on an appointment basis, and has the capacity to prepare more than 100 tax returns per week during the 2013 tax season.
The St. Bonaventure volunteers are trained not only to prepare high quality tax returns, but also to explain the tax return to the taxpayer and to answer the taxpayer’s questions. Interested persons are encouraged to call (716) 373-2534 to see if they qualify and to make an appointment.
Since 2004, the university’s VITA program has brought federal and state income tax benefits to people with low and moderate incomes by providing free income tax preparation and e-filing. The program focuses on workers who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit available to low- and moderate-income workers with earned income.
In the first nine years of operation, VITA volunteers have contributed 15,000 service hours, and prepared 3,120 tax returns, to help Cattaraugus County residents earn $4.8 million in tax refunds.
Accounting majors, alumni and faculty from St. Bonaventure volunteer to make the program possible under the leadership of Dr. Susan Anders, professor of accounting and site coordinator for the VITA program. Volunteer tax preparers engage in many hours of training and must pass rigorous IRS certification tests. All volunteer tax preparers are certified at the Advanced level or higher.
The St. Bonaventure VITA program operates in partnership with the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services and the United Way of Cattaraugus County, which provide resources for the activity. St. Bonaventure accounting students, along with experienced alumni, faculty and friends of the university, screen clients, book appointments, and provide free tax return preparation and e-filing.
For more information, contact SBU’s VITA program at (716) 373-2534, or visit www.irs.gov.
About the University: St. Bonaventure is in the top 15 percent of institutions in U.S. News & World Report’s 2010 ranking of Northern universities that offer master’s degrees. It has a history of accomplishment and service that extends back 150 years. At the heart of St. Bonaventure University is the Franciscan affirmation of the dignity and worth of the entire created order. Fundamental to this vision is an awareness that it is within relationships and community that individuals discover and develop their potential.