Barry McNamara  |   Published January 11, 2016

VITA program returns

Popular tax preparation program returns for 2016
  • Monmouth College’s VITA program is ready to start again on Feb. 1. (photo by 401kcalculator.org)
Monmouth College will offer computerized tax preparation and e-filing (federal and Illinois state) at no cost to the taxpayer, beginning Feb. 1, through a partnership with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Accounting professor Judy Peterson, coordinator of Monmouth’s program, said VITA has a twofold purpose: service and education for the community, and citizenship and education for the students.

Since the IRS program is primarily designed to assist low-income taxpayers, it will serve those earning $54,000 or less during the first two weeks (Feb. 1 – 15). Taxpayers with higher incomes may begin using the service on Feb. 17 as long as their return is within the IRS parameters of the VITA program.

Peterson stated that students learn more when presented with a wider variety of tax situations than what may be seen on a typical 1040EZ or 1040A.

“The students have been studying and will be certified to prepare returns for a number of tax issues that would be prepared using the long 1040 form,” she added. “All returns are quality reviewed for accuracy. Students are only certifying for the 2015 federal return and the 2015 state of Illinois return.”

To comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), taxpayers need to have had minimum essential insurance coverage for each month of 2015, and they will need to bring evidence of such insurance. Three forms are being issued this season that taxpayers need to bring with them: 1095A (from the marketplace) or B (from the insurance carrier) or C (from the employer).

“The 1095A form is especially critical,” said Peterson, “as that form is entered directly onto the return to determine the correct amount of premium tax credit.”

All ages of taxpayers are served through VITA, from students through retirees. Taxpayers are strongly encouraged to e-file, as they can expect quicker response to their filings, and the IRS can reduce its processing costs.

Assistant professor of accounting Connie Mersch will join Peterson in supervising the program. Mersch, who joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2011, previously worked in the tax departments of several major companies.

Beginning Feb. 1, the tax service will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Center for Science and Business (enter through the south doors on Broadway). The building, located in the 700 block of East Broadway, is handicap accessible. Inside the building, signs will direct taxpayers to the interview room to sign up.

Weekday sessions will be held 4 – 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through April 13 (except during the college’s spring and Easter breaks, March 7, 9 and 28). Saturday sessions will be held 9 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 – 4 p.m. through April 9 (except during the college’s spring and Easter breaks, March 5, 12 and 26). Last call for each session will be 6:45 p.m. on weekdays and 3:45 p.m. on Saturdays.

More information, including what to bring to a VITA session in addition to photo identification and Social Security cards, is available at: http://monmouthcollege.edu/academics/accounting/vita/. Other information can be requested by emailing vita@monmouthcollege.edu.
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