For the 19th year, Santa Barbara High School’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will offer free tax preparation services to low- to moderate-income families from 3 to 6 p.m. through April 15 in Room 70 of Santa Barbara High School.
The program, which is part of the Regional Occupational Program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, uses 30 IRS-trained and certified volunteer students to assist and file IRS forms.
Taxpayers who take part in the program will need to provide the following:
» Valid driver’s license or photo identification (self and spouse, if applicable)
» Social Security cards for all persons listed on the return
» Dates of birth for all persons listed on the return
» All income statements: Forms W-2, 1099s, Social Security, unemployment, or other benefits statements, self-employment records, and any documents showing taxes withheld
» Dependent child care information: payee’s name, address, and Social Security number or taxpayer identification number
» Proof of account at financial institution for direct debit or deposit (e.g., canceled/voided check or bank statement)
» Last year’s tax return
» 1098-T’s tuition statements
“It is important that taxpayers turn to trained tax preparers such as VITA’s IRS-trained team,” said Bill Cirone, whose office coordinates the program.
VITA instructor Lee Knodel added, “This is the time of year when Internet spams appear. Beware of that spam. The IRS does not email people to request any personal information.”
The IRS estimates that 20 to 25 percent of eligible taxpayers fail to claim the credit which could put as much as $4,824 into the pockets of a family with two children, or send as much as $2,917 to a family with one child, or up to $438 for a worker with no children. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the federal government’s largest program benefiting lower earning workers.
“The extra dollars eligible taxpayers can get through EITC can make their lives a little easier,” said Bob Correa, retired IRS agent, “but they must file tax returns, even if they aren’t required to file, and claim the credit to receive it.”
Correa said some individuals and families may qualify for the credit for the first time because of unemployment or other changes in their financial, marital or parental status during the past year.
Qualifying taxpayers would include those with two qualifying children, who earned less than $40,964 ($46,044 if married filing jointly); those with one qualifying child who earned less than $36,052 ($41,132 if married filing jointly); and those without a qualifying child who earned less than $13,660 ($18,740 if married filing jointly). Individuals in those categories should check to see if they qualify.
The Dons Net Café, a Regional Occupational Program of the County Education Office, is a student-run business that represents a 20-year commitment to inspire students to create positive social and environmental change through ethical commerce and service learning. More information is available by contacting the Dons Net Café, Santa Barbara High School, Room 70, 805.963.8597, 700 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 93103.
— Wendy Shelton for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.