Lake Area Tech Offers Free Income Tax Preparation Services
JANUARY 5, 2021
WATERTOWN, SD – For more than 30 years, second-year students in Lake Area Technical College’s Financial Services Advanced Tax class have participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that offers free basic income tax filing services to the public who meet program guidelines.
This year’s program will be held on the Lake Area Tech campus Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays beginning Tuesday, February 2 and lasting through Saturday, March 13. Tuesday hours are noon to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Thursday hours are from noon to 3:00 p.m.; and Saturday hours are from 9:00 a.m. to noon. All services will be held at Lake Area Tech in room 430 (please use the main Lake Area Tech entrance on Arrow Ave). The VITA service is free and is offered on a walk-in basis.
Strict safety guidelines will be in place. All visitors will be temp checked at the main entrance and masks are required at all times during the tax appointment. Please bring your own mask.
All taxpayers will need to bring:
- Photo ID for primary taxpayer (and spouse)—required by IRS
- Social Security cards for everyone on your return—required by IRS
- Tax forms and other tax information you have received
- Copy of last year’s tax return (if possible)
- Checking/savings account information if you receive a refund and wish to use direct deposit (It’s best to bring an actual check to verify the correct information.)
Taxpayers making less than $57,000 and whose tax return falls within the IRS guidelines for VITA tax preparation assistance are welcome. Details can be found by following the Lake Area Tech VITA Tax Prep Facebook page: @LATVITATaxPrep, https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Checklist-for-Free-Tax-Return-Preparation or www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers.
LATC Financial Services Instructor Lorna Hofer said the students are well-prepared through coursework, but they must also pass a rigorous national VITA certification examination prior to the filing season. “Studying for and taking the national exam not only educates the students on tax laws and filing procedures, but it addresses all aspects of working with the public including ethics and interview techniques,” she said. This year, 18 students are participating in the program.
The service a win-win for everyone as students are introduced to the professional aspects of working with customers during this service-learning experience, and the customers are able to obtain tax filing assistance free of charge from VITA-certified students, Hofer said. Before filing occurs, a quality review process is completed on each return.