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VITA Program returns to make positive impact for 2024 tax season

(February 6, 2024) - Whether you hate it, tolerate it, or maybe even love it ... tax season has returned once again.

The VITA Program has aided the community for nearly 40 years, including during the COVID-19 pandemic

For many, it can be a confusing and, perhaps, anxious time.

But for the past 37 years, Clayton State University’s College of Business has assisted many in the community with their taxes. And they’re ready to do so again in 2024.

Beginning Saturday, February 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the College of Business Building, the college will once again partner with the United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to offer free tax preparation assistance for eligible taxpayers using forms 1040EZ, 1040A and simple 1040s.

Dr. Anthony Hannah, the program’s advisor, is prepared to oversee VITA for a fourth consecutive year and says that it’s a pleasure to aid the community once again.

“I was here when we navigated through COVID to keep it going consecutively while a lot of other programs shut down,” Hannah said. “It is something that the community has grown to rely on. They know they can come and receive tax service. They know where we are going to be here on Saturdays. We’re going to take the time to file for them.”

From Saturday, February 3, through Saturday, April 6, Clayton State accounting students will provide free tax preparation to anyone looking for it, under three conditions.

First, only individuals who receive a yearly salary of $79,500 or less may utilize the VITA program. Those with disabilities and any limited English-speaking taxpayers are also free to receive assistance, as well.

Hannah also says all participating students receive class credit for their program contributions, too.

He also wants to remind anyone interested in visiting the College of Business for tax assistance that when you arrive, you won’t be in a professional tax firm. Instead, visitors will be in a university setting where students are actively learning as they are providing help – not rapid refunds on tax filings.

But Hannah says, often, the local perception of Clayton State’s VITA Program has been one of great approval.

“I was just in the bookstore asking some questions, non-VITA-related, and the lady at the cash register said, ‘hey, when does VITA start?’” Hannah said. “’I come every year and will be there again this year with a friend.’ The word is out. The community knows about it and gets excited about it.”

Jalen Teal, the manager of the College of Business’ Innovation Center, has also seen the impact VITA has left on the local community over the years, saying the “commitment and compassion each volunteer brings to the program are truly inspiring.”

“Bright and early each Saturday, they arrive and selflessly give their time and expertise to help others navigate the complexities of tax season,” Teal said. “We are not merely providing a service, but offering a lifeline to individuals and families who may be facing financial challenges. In a world where the intricacies of tax regulations can be overwhelming, the VITA program serves as a beacon of support for those who need it most.”

Teal further related to both the campus and surrounding community, saying that both the College of Business’ and program’s abilities to “share knowledge, skills, and patience empowers individuals to fulfill their tax obligations with confidence and dignity.” 

More importantly, she said, is that “a sense of community and solidarity” is fostered among all who both volunteer for and attend the program, reminding Clayton County of the strength that lies in helping your neighbors. 

“I hope to see the program continue to grow in the coming years!” said Teal, enthusiastically.

With Hannah’s drive, as well as the passion displayed by the program’s students, there is always the chance it could have a larger presence by the end of the decade.

Hannah has said, in an effort to gain participation from students and staff, VITA services will be available in the Innovation Center from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesdays, beginning February 7 through April 3. 

Wednesday afternoons at the Innovation Center will also accommodate those in the community who may not be available to visit during the provided Saturday hours.

And the reason why is simple, he said. 

It further promotes what he believes is the biggest takeaway from Clayton State’s VITA program – it’s here to help the community.

“Some companies try to charge so much, it’s not really that difficult to do 1040s,” Hannah said. “It’s all about people knowing what’s available to them. We want VITA to be here as a resource to help people that need it or want it.”

For more information on Clayton State University’s VITA Program, please visit the link provided:

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