This year, the Indiana University School of Business and Economics and the IU Northwest Accounting and Business Student Organization, in cooperation with Northwest Indiana Community Action and the Internal Revenue Service, will once again assist low-income families in filing their tax returns during tax season through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Business and accounting students at IU Northwest, trained and supervised by faculty members and IRS representatives, work directly with community members to process free electronic tax filings for federal and state returns.
VITA sessions at IU Northwest will run on Fridays from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Jan. 30, Feb. 6, Feb. 13, and Feb. 20, in the business school’s offices in Room 1106 of the Dunes Medical/Professional Building, located just west of the Library Conference Center on 35th Avenue west of Broadway in Gary, Ind. Additional Friday sessions are scheduled for March 6, March 13, March 27, April 3, and April 10. Walk-ins are welcome during VITA’s regular hours, and special appointments are also available by calling (219) 980-6552.
Hundreds of Northwest Indiana taxpayers take advantage of the VITA program each year. Not only does the program allow the School of Business and Economics, which is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business — International, to serve the community, but VITA also gives IU Northwest business students hands-on, professional experience with tax preparation, customer service and interaction with a regulatory agency. Students learn critical thinking skills by solving complex regulatory problems, and taxpayers receive free electronic tax filings, many of which return refunds by the end of the following week.
Taxpayers are asked to bring all form W-2’s, 1099’s, Social Security and government payment notices, any tax rebate amounts received, and any other notices of income, mortgage interest, taxes paid, qualified tuition payments, contribution, rents paid, names and addresses of landlords, and other tax-related information, as well as all family and dependent Social Security cards and birthdates. This year there is a special deduction for real estate taxes even for those who take standard deductions, so everyone who pays real estate taxes should bring proof of the amount of taxes paid.
The IU Northwest VITA program is part of a coalition of government and nonprofit organizations that brought more than $3.5 million in federal tax refunds to Northwest Indiana last year. The School of Business and Economics also helps to train members of local nonprofit groups as tax preparers. Community partners from local banks and nonprofit organizations also are available to provide a range of free or low-cost services that benefit families in Northwest Indiana.
For more information on VITA, or to schedule an appointment, contact the IU Northwest School of Business and Economics at (219) 980-6552.