College, partners offer income tax assistance
American Express, Southeastern Association of Local Governments, USU Eastern and Community Action Partnership of Utah are all working together to serve the people of the Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan County through the VITA program.
According to Paul Leggett, executive director of community action partnership of Utah, the goal is "to provide eligible Utah tax filers with easy, free tax preparation and filing tools this tax season through the Earn it. Keep it. Save it. initiative, which is a statewide public-private partnership that builds partnerships to strengthen family financial stability."
The VITA program is Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA has provided free tax preparation services through local communities like Carbon and Emery counties since the early 1970s.
USU Eastern business professor, Henning J. Olsen said the College of Eastern Utah began the VITA program in Spring 1982 and was the first college in Utah to participate in the program. "At first," he said, "we prepared returns long hand. The first computer printouts were accompanied by copier overlays. The Laser printer was a major breakthrough in technology. With the next technological advancement, e-file, other colleges began to offer the course. New to our program this year is the utilization of the internet in an almost paperless world in a statewide network to serve the public."
Sites are located throughout Utah and the volunteers are ready to serve the clients.
If you make less than $51,000 a year, you can have your taxes done for free from a volunteer located at USU Eastern, USU Blanding and USU Moab site. "We are proud to form a partnership with USU Eastern and be able to offer this service to the members of our community," Collette Freestone, program manager at Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments said.
Students also benefit from community service. One of the USU Eastern VITA students from last year is managing a local tax return company while another student is working as an intern in a local tax practitioner's office this year.
USU Eastern students are preparing tax returns in Price, Blanding and in Towaoc, Colo. "This is all job related, giving students real world experience and allowing them to work with the public," Olsen added.
"We appreciate American Express and their generous grant that has helped us start the VITA program and to expand in the four counties: Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan," Freestone said.
Income taxes are prepared (while you wait) over the IRS Internet program. Walk-in hours on the USU Eastern campus are 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday and Wednesday in Reeves Building, room 130. Contact Olsen at 435-613-5219 for information or call to make an appointment. If no answer, please leave message.