Students wait for their turn for volunteers to assist them with their taxes at the SFSU VITA office at SF State on March 30, 2023. (Tatyana Ekmekjian / Golden Gate Xpress) (Tatyana Ekmekjian)
Students wait for their turn for volunteers to assist them with their taxes at the SFSU VITA office at SF State on March 30, 2023. (Tatyana Ekmekjian / Golden Gate Xpress)

Tatyana Ekmekjian

Volunteer Income Tax Assistant provides free tax services at SF State

VITA will be providing free tax services until April 8th

March 31, 2023

At SF State, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance provides free tax service to taxpayers whose income is less than $70,000. 

“This means VITA is available to our SFSU students/staff and local community members as long as they meet this criterion,” said Lena Yang, a faculty advisor for VITA.

VITA welcomes everyone who’s eligible to come and take advantage of their free service. VITA is sponsored by Lam Family College of Business, Beta Alpha Psi and the United Way Bay Area. The volunteers at VITA are IRS-certified to provide tax preparation services to qualified individuals.

Linsey Doo, fifth-year accounting major at SF State, volunteers to help students with tax accounting at the SFSU VITA office on March 30, 2023. (Tatyana Ekmekjian / Golden Gate Xpress) (Tatyana Ekmekjian)

“My brother is a student here and I asked him if his school had VITA because I remembered my school used to do it,” said Monica Yueng, a senior at Cal State East Bay.  

Yueng’s brother attends SF State as a third-year. She resorted to VITA at SF State because CSUEB is not providing VITA program.

“It’s my first time coming in person,” Yueng said. “Personally, I’m not very good at doing my own taxes and it’s kind of stressful. It’s good to have someone help you and guide you through the process, especially if they just do it for you. You just come back and review it. I think that’s a great resource to have on campus.” 

Last year Yueng was able to have access to VITA at CSUEB through Zoom, but this year she asked her brother to find out if SF State also provides the service. 

“The IRS has been promoting VITA. So for more than 15 years, we have been on campus,” Yang said. 

VITA gives an opportunity to any student to become a volunteer and learn about tax returns. 

“In early January, students interested in volunteering will take an IRS training and we invite a tax professional to teach some of the basic tax material,” Yang said. “To work as a VITA volunteer they have to pass an IRS exam. So all of our volunteers are IRS-certified volunteers.” 

VITA cannot prepare tax returns for those that are married, filing separately or are self-employed with a business expense greater than $10,000. 

“Our program has been operating for more than 15 years. This year we resumed our in-person VITA after having two years of zoom for a VITA session.” 

Tax resource guides are available at the SFSU VITA office along with the assistance of volunteers at SF State on March 30, 2023. (Tatyana Ekmekjian / Golden Gate Xpress) (Tatyana Ekmekjian)

Those interested in receiving this service must make an appointment through their website. VITA also accepts walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis depending on the number of available volunteers. 

“We get more than 150 clients but sometimes the tax filing isn’t immediately. We need to ask for certain additional documents,” Yang said. “This year we have 50 student volunteers and many of them are accounting students and finance majors but we welcome any majors.” 

Viviana Reyes, a third-year majoring in broadcast and electronic communication arts is one of those 150 clients. 

“I typically use TurboTax but last year there was a mess up through it because they were asking me for a form that I didn’t have,” Reyes said. “I wanted to see a person this year and I was going to go pay someone from H&R Block but I passed by my class and saw the poster and said freeze. Let me go check it out first.” 

Reyes was in line with many others who had made an appointment and were asked to bring documents. 

The required documents include a photo ID, social security card, all forms of income, last year’s tax returns, savings and checking account routing numbers for direct deposit and letters or notices from the IRS, if necessary. 

“It’s a community commitment,” Yang said. “We learn about tax information and gain all of this knowledge. We are trying to promote and make a commitment to the local communities. It’s also helpful for the students after having this experience and practice.” 

April 8 will be the last day to receive these free tax services at VITA at the Creative Arts Building, Room 116.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Adriana Hernandez
Adriana Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief
Adriana Hernandez (she/her) is the Editor-In-Chief for Golden Gate Xpress. She is majoring in journalism and minoring in media literacy. Adriana has a passion for storytelling, culture, art, and design. She previously wrote for The Skyline View, the student newspaper of Skyline College. In her downtime, she enjoys reading and watching films. For any inquiries, you can contact me at [email protected].  
Photo of Tatyana Ekmekjian
Tatyana Ekmekjian, Staff Photographer
Tatyana Ekmekjian (she/her) is graduating this spring with a major in photojournalism and a minor in hospitality and tourism management at SF State. Tatyana has a great passion for the culture, industry and preparation of food. She hopes to express her passion for food through the medium of photography to further her success in the food and lifestyle industry.

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