Photo Courtesy of Robert Clark

CSUN VITA clinicians assisting student with tax-preparation services. The program was recently was awarded a CSU5+ VITA grant to continue helping low-income taxpayers manage their finances through cost-free tax preparation services.

California State University, Northridge’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Clinic recently was awarded a CSU5+ VITA grant for $351,750 by the state of California to continue helping low-income taxpayers manage their finances through cost-free tax preparation services.

The grant focuses on the collaboration known as the CSU5, between CSUN and four other Los Angeles County CSU’s – Dominguez Hills, Long Beach, L.A., Pomona and six L.A.-based community colleges – that will allow CSUN to expand its VITA services beyond the San Fernando Valley.

“We want to imbed VITA clinics throughout Los Angeles in various academic institutions from the ground up, while providing students with the opportunity to build credentials and increase their capacity of serving low-income communities in the area,” said Rafi Efrat, Bookstein Chair in Taxation and director of CSUN’s VITA Clinic in CSUN’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics.

The grant will allow CSUN to allocate funds to each of the participating CSU campuses to help manage and expand their VITA clinics, Efrat said.

The expanded CSUN5+ VITA services will extend over 40 sites in Los Angeles County including several in, Long Beach, Pomona, downtown L.A., San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica and the Antelope Valley. More than 1,000 student volunteers will be deployed to serve over 15,000 taxpayers across these sites.

Free tax preparation assistance to non-English speakers will be provided, including those who speak Spanish, Farsi, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Armenian and Russian.

VITA is a program sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that offers free tax services to individuals and families with low to moderate incomes, the elderly, disabled and those who lack English language proficiency.

For the past 50 years, CSUN’s VITA clinic has served the communities in and around the San Fernando Valley making it the second largest VITA clinic in California, according to Efrat.

“This grant is particularly important because it allows our ongoing CSU5 collaboration to promote common causes and advance service and knowledge in the various fields of tax preparation to increase visibility and impact on the community,” Efrat said.