SMWC students provide free tax assistance

January 27th, 2014 | Betsy Wells

Deductions, exemptions, credits, contributions – tax season is upon us, and these words have a way of making the best of us feel inferior, especially if the only time you think about taxes is when it’s time to file. For those who need assistance with tax returns, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (SMWC) College provides the services of trained volunteers to those who qualify.

For the sixth year, SMWC participates in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program to help low- to moderate-income (generally, $52,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Through VITA, which is a national program, certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country.

At SMWC, eight students received extensive training to assist citizens and residents with their federal and state income tax returns. These business majors must successfully complete a 15-20 hour advanced certification test. During the last tax season, students prepared 175 tax returns.

“The VITA Program provides our students with practical tax experience outside the classroom,” said Jamie McCracken, SMWC assistant professor of business and co-coordinator of SMWC’s VITA services. “VITA is a perfect way for students to receive real life experience while helping the community.”

The SMWC VITA site will offer free electronic filing (e-filing) and, according to the website www.IRS.gov, “Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper – even faster if you have your refund deposited directly into your bank account.”

  • Those who wish to have tax returns prepared at a VITA site must bring:
  • Proof of identification – Picture ID
  • Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
  • Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
  • Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's tax identifying number (the provider's Social Security Number or the provider's business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate

To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

The VITA site is on the second floor of Hulman Hall, room 213, on SMWC campus. VITA services will be provided at SMWC on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. beginning February 4, 2014, and lasting through April 15, 2014.

If you have a simple return and the entire information ready, it may be dropped off at the tax site in Hulman Hall, room 213, during the open hours of the site, as well as Mondays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The completion of additional forms is required. Please provide a valid phone number with your information.

To reserve an appointment with SMWC’s VITA site to file your e-file or paper return, call 812-535-5223. For directions, visit http://www.smwc.edu/about/campus-map.

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