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Business students offer free tax preparation assistance
VITA tax prep program

JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 22, 2018) — With the financial support of Eastman Credit Union (ECU), a group of East Tennessee State University business student volunteers, under the guidance of accountancy faculty members Dr. Anthony Masino and Dr. Michelle Freeman, will offer free tax preparation assistance again this year through the Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. 

As an approved VITA location, the ETSU group will assist taxpayers who had $55,000 or less in income during tax year 2017. Hours have been extended for the 2017 filing season. Volunteers will be available to offer tax preparation services on the following Saturdays – Feb. 10 and 24, March 10 and 24, and April 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sam Wilson Hall, room 318, on ETSU’s main campus.

Taxpayers must arrive at least one hour before closing and those who arrive within one hour of closing will be given program questionnaires used to complete a tax return, but will be asked to return to the site at a later scheduled VITA session. 

 “The tax assistance program provided by ETSU is a great opportunity for the community and the students at ETSU. ECU’s contribution provides for basic office expenses and supplies. Partnerships in programs like this one is a win-win for all involved,” said Olan O. Jones, CEO and president of ECU.

Last year, more than 30 graduate and undergraduate students successfully completed IRS certification requirements in order to volunteer. Those volunteers were able to prepare and assist members of the public with over 250 tax returns.

In addition to free basic income tax return preparation and electronic filing, volunteers will inform taxpayers about special tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

Taxpayers can make an appointment or walk-in to seek assistance. A limited number of scheduled appointment times are available for each session and walk-ins are addressed on a first come, first served basis.  Taxpayers are required to remain on site as the return is completed (for married filing joint returns both spouses must be present). While every effort is made to complete the return in a timely and efficient manner, taxpayers should be advised the average wait to have a return completed is an hour. More complex matters may take longer. Taxpayer patience and understanding are greatly appreciated.

Those who wish to have their tax return prepared at the ETSU VITA site must have the following items in order to complete the tax return:

  • Proof of identification – state or federal government issued picture ID
  • Social Security Cards for the taxpayer, spouse and any dependents on the tax return
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents if you do not have a Social Security number
  • Birth dates for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents on the tax return
  • Wage and earning statement(s) from all employers, including any W-2, W-2G 1099-R, 1099-Misc.
  • Information regarding other income sources, if applicable
  • Information for all deductions / credits, if applicable
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements, if applicable
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit, such as a blank check
  • Total amounts paid to daycare provider(s) and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or business Employer Identification Number), if appropriate
  • Copies of 1099-T for tuition and fees paid by the taxpayer, spouse and any dependents if applicable; and
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

Sam Wilson Hall is located at 200 Ross Drive, Johnson City. For more information or to make an appointment, contact Masino at 423-439-4432 or or Freeman at 423-439-4432 or .       

For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

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