Last chance to file taxes with VITA
VITA continues to provide free income tax assistance to all individuals
Published: Sunday, March 29, 2009
Updated: Sunday, March 29, 2009 22:03
The 2008 deadline for filing income tax returns is April 15. For anyone who has not yet filed a return, Baruch's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offers income tax preparation services for free to the general public.
The VITA program is an outreach program facilitated by the Internal Revenue Service. VITA offers free tax help for individuals with low and moderate-income levels who cannot afford professional tax services. Last year alone, Baruch's VITA program assisted over 6,000 clients.
"We want to break that number this year by helping even more clients," said Cathy Huang, a Baruch VITA program coordinator. Volunteers receive extensive training to learn how to prepare basic tax returns.
Many VITA clients are college students. Full-time students often file as dependents on their parents' tax returns. If dependents have income from other sources such as jobs and internships, they must file a separate return.
If returns are not filed, money withheld from paychecks will not be returned. Anyone who filed as a dependent last year may be eligible for Recovery Rebate Credit.
Income tax returns benefit low-income individuals through tax refunds. Many families who are eligible for the Earned Income Credit do not claim their refund. In 2007, the EIC was as high as $4,716 for a family of four. Billions of dollars of revenue are lost every year because 15 to 25 percent of eligible families fail to claim this refund.
In addition to regular services, VITA helps international students file tax return forms. All international students must file Form 8843, even if they do not earn an income.
Unlike in previous years, international students who have lived in New York for more than 11 months must now file as New York State residents rather than non-residents. With this change, international students can receive a College Tuition Credit which is worth anywhere from $200 to $400. Students need to know the amount they paid for this year's tuition in order to more accurately file their taxes.
Single international students without an income can find more information and schedule an appointment with a VITA volunteer at baruch.cuny.edu/vita or email the program coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested individuals should not wait until April 15 to use VITA's services.
The program operates Tuesday through Friday in the Baruch library building and on the weekends at various sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.