Free tax assistance offered by CSUB students and alumni

March 17, 2009
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

Local taxpayers can get free tax reporting and filing assistance from California State University, Bakersfield students and alumni from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA. Through VITA, taxpayers can receive free preparation of California and federal tax returns during the tax season every Saturday by appointment from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through March 31.

VITA is a nationwide program that provides tax assistance to individuals who need help with basic income tax return preparation. Established as a nationwide Internal Revenue Service taxpayer service in the 1970s, VITA volunteers prepare federal and California returns for taxpayers who generally have an income of less than $50,000 per year.

Jim Patten, former CSUB accounting professor and a certified public accountant, oversees the work of the volunteers and says all clients, regardless of income, get attentive treatment.

"VITA is a national program that was originally geared to help elderly and low-income taxpayers. But our experience over the years has shown that VITA serves a broad range of taxpayers," Patten said. "But it is not only the taxpayer who wins, VITA experience is one of the most important items that accounting students can report on their resumes."

Individuals seeking VITA assistance should bring their photo identification, Social Security card (copies or originals), a copy of last year's tax returns, copies of current W-2 forms and 1099s, and all taxpayer and dependent Social Security numbers and dates of birth for identification. Taxpayers wishing to claim the credit for a child or dependent must provide care-provider information: name, address, tax id number, phone number, and amount paid to the provider.

CSUB students and alumni participate at the VITA site housed at the Christ the King Church, 1800 Bedford Way in Oildale. While walk-ins are accepted, appointments are recommended to ensure there are enough VITA volunteers to meet demand. To make an appointment, taxpayers can call the local United Way 2-1-1 information line to find a VITA group near them.

For a listing of other VITA sites in Kern County and California, go to the Franchise Tax Board web site