LATI Students Offer Free Income Tax Preparation
WATERTOWN, SD – For more than 20 years, second-year students in Lake Area Technical College’s Financial Services Advanced Tax class are participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that offers free basic income tax filing services to the public who meet program guidelines.
The program will be held on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Tuesday, February 2 from noon to 3:00 p.m. in room 205 through Thursday, March 3. The service is free and is offered on a walk-in basis. Taxpayers from the community should use door 2 or 2A on the west side of LATI. In addition to their tax information for this filing, all taxpayers will need to show a photo ID for the primary return holder and for all joint return holders, present a Social Security card for each person listed on the return, and bring a copy of last year’s tax return. Taxpayers making less than $54,000 and whose tax return falls within the scope of the program for VITA tax preparers as set by the IRS who need assistance in preparing their tax returns are welcome to take part in the program. More checklist details can be found at https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Checklist-for-Free-Tax-Return-Preparation.
Lorna Hofer, LATI Financial Services Instructor, 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.”
Last year, 234 returns were completed through the VITA program at Lake Area Technical College. Hofer said it’s 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. Before filing occurs, a quality review process is completed on each return.