SMC's VITA Program Helps Community Members File Tax Returns While Students Gain Accounting Experience
The Santa Monica College (SMC) Business Department has a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program where low-to moderate-income level ($75,000 or less a year) students and community members can receive federal and state income tax preparation assistance, completely free of charge. All tax preparers are student volunteers who are extensively trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
This program is made up entirely of the school's Accounting students, as well as SMC Accounting Professor and Site Coordinator, Cesar Rubio. This gives the colleges' accounting students an opportunity to greatly expand their knowledge and experience of tax preparation, giving them a real-world edge in the industry, while also helping students, faculty, and other members of the community with their taxes.
Although this is only the first year for the VITA Program at SMC, Rubio expresses excitement and satisfaction with the turn out of this year’s event so far. At this time there is no permanent location for the VITA Program at SMC, so Rubio hopes that the program will hopefully get a permanent spot on campus as a long-term operation, as he sees how beneficial it is.
The VITA is a nationwide program and is recognized by the IRS, so Rubio hopes to see this program as a way to bring up SMC's rank up among community colleges.
Volunteer Shlomi Golan said, “We get to help people that are in need. I wish more students knew about this program… since it is not only great for us, but it’s also great for the community, which I think is very important.”
The event will run every Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. until April 7 and is located at 3400 Airport Ave. Suite 7 in Santa Monica, California. The volunteers highly recommend making an appointment due to high demand.