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SMWC Students Gearing Up to Help Hundreds File for Free

Eight student volunteers completing 20 hours of an advanced certification, meaning they're ready to help you file for free. It's open to anyone who makes less than $52,000 a year, and it includes federal and any state.
It may seem hard to believe, but tax season is already upon us.

Students at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College have spent weeks gearing up, and now they're ready to help hundreds file.

It's part of the VITA program - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance - and it's a win-win for everyone involved.

"I always say it's my favorite time of the year."

Not how most of us feel about tax time... but for the sixth year, some Saint Mary's students are volunteering their services.
   
"Before it was like, parents here do my taxes for me! Now that I'm able to do my own, I understand where my money is and what it's going toward and why I'm paying taxes out of my salary. It's been really good to learn all that," said Mandy Kelly, a junior at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. 

Eight online and campus students like these are going above and beyond the typical homework.

They're completing 20 hours of an advanced certification, meaning they're ready to help you file for free.

It's open to anyone who makes less than $52,000 a year, and it includes federal and any state.
   
"The best way that our students can learn is through active learning. And helping the community is one of the best ways we can fulfill our college mission," said Jamie McCracken, an associate professor of business at SMWC and leader of the VITA program there.

This program proves its worth every year.

In 2012, students filed 250 returns and since it started, the program has given away $60,000 worth of services - and generated more than a quarter of a million dollars in refunds.

And...they're ready to do it once again.

"You do a lot of practice returns,learning his to file them and then you actually take a test. And I just passed mine so I'm good to go," said Kelly.

McCracken adds: "They're very ambitious. They're excited to do their certification. I actually think I might have heard the word love in the same sentence as taxes from one or two of them."  

The free tax prep starts next Tuesday and Wednesday, and runs through April 15.
   

The VITA site is on the second floor of Hulman Hall, room 213, on the SMWC campus. Services will be provided at SMWC on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

If you have a simple return and the entire information ready, it may be dropped off at the tax site in Hulman Hall, room 213, during the open hours of the site, as well as Mondays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The completion of additional forms is required. Please provide a valid phone number with your information.

To reserve an appointment with SMWC’s VITA site to file your e-file or paper return, call (812) 535-5223.

Those who wish to have tax returns prepared at a VITA site must bring:
▪ Proof of identification - Picture ID
▪ Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or
▪ Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents ▪ Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
▪ Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
▪ Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
▪ Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
▪ A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
▪ Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check
▪ Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's tax identifying number (the provider's Social Security Number or the provider's business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate.

To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.
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