MSU Billings students help provide free tax-preparation services to local residents
January 19, 2010
Dr. Debra Johnson, Assistant Professor of Accounting, 657-1606
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269
United Way of Yellowstone County, 254-9760
Various VITA sites open from Jan. 30 to April 15
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — As the spring semester moves forward, some Montana State University Billings accounting students will be up to their calculators in numbers — other peoples’ numbers.
A number of MSU Billings students will once again be taking part in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, helping local residents prepare their taxes.
The students do the work free of charge for low-income and elderly residents, said Dr. Debra Johnson, assistant professor of accounting in the MSU Billings College of Business. As part of the college’s commitment to service learning, students earn credit for the work and can improve their client-relation skills and their tax-preparation skills, she said.
MSU Billings students have been assisting the needy with tax preparation for more than 25 years.
Through the VITA program, local residents can have their taxes done quickly, free and certified at one of five VITA sites. The MSU Billings students and other volunteers are certified by the Internal Revenue Service and are designed for people with basic returns who generally made $49,000 or below in 2009.
Five free tax preparation sites located throughout Billings will be open from Jan. 30 to April 15.
The five VITA sites offering free tax preparation and e-filing are:
- District 7 Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) located at 7 N. 31 Street and open though April 15 on Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
- United Way/MSUB located in Downtown Billings at 112 N. Broadway at the Jackets and Co. store. It will be open through April 11 on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. and Mondays from 5:30-7:30 pm.
- Billings Federal Credit Union located at 2522 4th Ave. N. will be taking appointments. Please call 248-1127 for more information.
- Rimrock Credit Union located at 952 Central Ave. will be taking appointments. Please call 245-3685 for more information.
- AARP Tax Aide is located at the Yellowstone County Council of Aging at 1505 Ave. D. They will be taking appointments. Please call 259-9666 for more information.
In addition to tax preparation, VITA volunteers assist community members in claiming special credits and deductions for which they may be eligible, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Elderly Homeowner/Rental Credit. These credits can provide refunds to people even if they do not owe taxes or paid less taxes than the credit is worth. VITA sites specialize in helping low-to-moderate income filers receive all the tax benefits they are entitled to while saving them the cost of commercial tax preparation.
Taxpayers using the VITA sites should remember to bring:
- Valid photo identification
- Social Security card for you, your spouse and all dependents
- Birth dates for yourself, spouse and all dependents
- All tax forms for income including: W-2, W-2G, and 1099
- Tax information from day care
- A copy of last year’s tax return
- Documents (such as a personal check) showing your bank routing number and account number for direct deposit
It is important to remember that both spouses must be present if they are filing jointly.
For more information about the VITA program and Billings sites, please call United Way of Yellowstone County at 254-9760.