Filing taxes before April 15 can be a confusing and sometimes stressful experience. Aside from finding the time to file, the right documents to gather, and the funds to pay for a professional preparer, many people put off filing until the last minute. The Murray State University Department of Accounting and United Way of Murray-Calloway County have partnered to provide IRS-sponsored, free tax preparation services to alleviate the struggle of tax season for moderate-to-low income members of the community.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is a free tax preparation assistance program sponsored by the IRS and conducted by certified MSU accounting students and members of accounting society, Beta Alpha Psi. The income-based service is open to Murray State faculty, staff, and students, as well as the Murray community. Approximately 350 community members utilized the preparation services last year, and by partnering with United Way Murray-Calloway County, MSU hopes to expand their reach and increase that number.
Students at Murray State are certified in both tax preparation and ethics training, studying for multiple days on top of their regular accounting curriculum to become equipped with the skillset to provide a reliable, professional tax service. Aside from invaluable professional experience, the students are afforded the opportunity to serve different roles throughout the preparation process. Freshman and first-time accounting students normally act as greeters, where they assist in filling out paperwork and gathering essential tax documentation. Students can then become either basic, advanced, or foreign preparers, in which they interview clients and prepare returns in groups of two. Finally, quality reviewers review returns before a final review by accounting professor, O'Shaughnessy. The return is then e-filed on the client's behalf, with tax returns expected roughly 10 days after filing.
VITA sessions will be held on Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. starting this Friday. February 22nd. There will be six Friday sessions total, with the last two sessions extending from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Sessions are held on Murray State's campus in the Business building, room 353. Those planning to attend should bring the following:
- Photo ID
- Social Security card (photocopy of card accepted only if MSU student or faculty/staff with MSU ID)
- 2018 W2's, 1099s, and any other relevant tax records
- Bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit
- 2017 tax documents, if possible
For more information, visit the Murray State Department of Accounting Facebook page, @MurrayStateACC on Twitter, or call 270-809-4193. For those unfamiliar with Murray State's campus, contact United Way for assistance through their website or by phone at 270-753-0317.