St. Bonaventure University accounting students will be opening their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) office on Jan. 26 for the 12th year of offering free tax services for qualifying taxpayers. The VITA Program operates out of the United Way office at 807 W. State St., Olean, next to NAPA Auto Parts and across the street from Raymour & Flanigan. Operating days are Monday through Saturday, with morning, afternoon, and evening appointment times available.
The St. Bonaventure VITA site is an innovative, high-volume program that operates on an appointment basis, and has the capacity to prepare 100 tax returns per week during tax season 2015. 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. To see if you qualify and to make an appointment, call (716) 373-2534.
To qualify for free tax return preparation and electronic filing, Cattaraugus County workers must have a family income of $53,000 or less. Candidates will go through an entrance interview to see whether they qualify for free assistance. Those who qualify must bring a valid picture I.D., Social Security cards, all W-2 forms, and Forms 1099 to their tax preparation 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 11 years of operation, VITA tax preparer volunteers have contributed 19,000 service hours, and prepared more than 4,000 tax returns to help Cattaraugus County residents earn over $6.3 million in tax refunds.
Accounting majors, alumni, and faculty from St. Bonaventure University 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.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #3 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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