WILMINGTON — As tax season approaches, 23 Wilmington College students are looking forward to assisting area residents in preparing their annual tax returns.
The IRS-certified, volunteer tax preparers will again offer this service as part of the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). Wilmington College hosts a VITA site that offers tax help to persons of low and moderate income who, generally, make less than $58,000, as well as taxpayers with disabilities.
Last year, the students again secured a 100 percent IRS rating in completing tax returns — free of charge — as a community service that gives the accounting and business majors, and other students involved, a valuable hands-on learning opportunity. WC students completed a record 205 returns in 2019 before the past two pandemic years affected the number of returns the site was able to process.
Allen Beatty, CPA, assistant professor of accounting and IRS Enrolled Agent/Site Manager, will again supervise the group, which includes 10 tax preparers and 13 greeters and others working with site logistics. Also assisting will be Tabby Williamson, an adjunct faculty member, who as a student completed the first tax return with WC’s inaugural VITA site in 2017.
Beatty noted how impressed both he and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have been with the local program’s first five years.
He cited the professionalism exhibited by his highly motivated VITA students. “This goes beyond professor and students,” he said. “I look at them as co-workers, like when I was back in the corporate world.”
Beatty said WC’s VITA site will be open from Feb. 7 through April 7 except during the College’s Spring Break the week of March 14. The appointment-only site will be available every Monday and Thursday evening from 5 to 8 p.m.
Appointments can be made by leaving contact information through either WC’s dedicated VITA site telephone number at 937-481-2296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . A VITA team member will contact those that inquire starting Jan. 10.
The students will provide basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. This service generally includes basic returns of wage earners (W-2) and retirees (1099-R and Social Security), who might also have such additional forms of income as interest, dividends (1099-INT, DIV) and unemployment (1099-G).
Preparation of a limited amount of itemized returns (Schedule A with home mortgage, interest, charitable contributions, medical expenses, etc.) will also be available, along with those featuring such popular credits as Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit, Retirement Savers Credit, etc. Also, the students will be able to work with taxpayers claiming capital gains and losses, and those with self-employment income, in addition to being
able to do limited small business returns. The preparers will possess additional expertise in dealing with Health Savings Accounts.
On the heels of the recent increase in the standard deduction, the VITA staff will review receipts and documents to advise on whether their clients should itemize deductions.
This year, VITA is operating under the CDC and other safety guidelines, which require face masks by all volunteers and taxpayers, socially distanced tax preparation with extra spacing between the tax preparers and taxpayers, and sanitized wipe down after every appointment. Face masks will be provided free of charge to those who are unable to bring a mask.
This year taxpayers need to bring any documentation such as the IRS notices 1444 or bank statements for any stimulus or pandemic relief checks received last spring.
Two other changes with the CARES Act allows taxpayers to deduct $300 ($600 to joint filers) in charity donations by cash, credit card, or check with out itemizing as an “above the line adjustment.”