Lake Area Tech Offers Free Income Tax Preparation Services
For Immediate Release
JANUARY 9, 2024
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. In addition to the on-site service, the program is again offering the Facilitated Self-Assist option that allows self-preparers using this service to email questions to the students.
This year’s on-site program will be held on the Lake Area Tech campus Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays beginning Tuesday, January 30 and lasting through Saturday, March 9. Tuesday hours are noon to 3:00 p.m.; Thursday hours are from noon to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday hours are from 9:00 a.m. to noon. All services will be held at Lake Area Tech in room 205 (please use door 2 or door 2A off of 11th Street NE). The VITA service is free and is offered on a walk-in basis.
All taxpayers will need to bring:
- Photo ID for the 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
- 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.)
- Details can be found by following the Lake Area Tech VITA Tax Prep Facebook page: @LATVITATaxPrep,
- VITA information: https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Checklist-for-Free-Tax-Return-Preparation or www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers.
In addition to the on-site services, the Financial Services program is once again offering an option for taxpayers who wish to self-prepare their return. Self-preparers who are interested in this service should email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a free preparation link supported by our IRS-certified student tax preparers. The self-preparer will then receive a link to a reputable self-guided interview-based software that will enable self-preparers to file on their own. This option also provides the opportunity for self-preparers using this service to ask questions of our student preparers via email during VITA service hours. Students will be able to answer questions within the scope of the IRS VITA program at no charge.
LATC Financial Services Instructor Lorna Hofer said students are well-prepared for these services through coursework, but they must also pass a rigorous national VITA certification examination before 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.
These services are 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.