The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) has been in existence for many years as a means of assisting lower income taxpayers with answers to their tax questions and assistance in preparing their income tax returns. This is the fifth year that CAL POLY has participated in the program.
The program is expected to provide the following benefits to participating students:
- Provides a review of the basic tax rules learned in Accounting 304, as well as supplementing that learning with various technical aspects of tax preparation and compliance.
Provides instruction and practice in the preparation of California income tax returns
Increases your communication skills through experience of interviewing clients and keeping a journal of your experiences.
Provides exposure to a broad cross-section of the population. Students will gain knowledge about the general population’s understanding of the tax laws and the problems they face in complying with its provisions.
The program is also a service to the community. This may be our client’s first one-on-one encounter with CAL POLY students – try to represent your university well!
II. CLASS REQUIREMENTS
Students must receive a passing grade on a federal tax returns test to be completed (individually!) by beginning of class on Wednesday, January 24th. Also, receive a passing grade on a California tax returns test due by class on Wednesday, January 31th.
Note: If you fail the federal test, you may take the “Retest,” but the maximum grade possible in the course will be a B. A fail on the second grading will cause you to be disqualified from the VITA program and this class. If you fail the California test, you will be given a second chance to pass the California returns before it will affect your grade.
Students must perform 8 hrs. of publicity activities.
Help with bringing in clients by preparing the returns for at least 6 people you have personally contacted about VITA. Two of these 6 people (or their information) must be brought in during the first two weeks of the program.
Work at least 28 hours in the VITA centers during the quarter (i.e. 4 hours per week).
Maintain an activity time log that confirms your activities and 6 taxpayers.
Keep a folder with your time log, a record of your coordinating or publicity activities and a daily journal of your experiences at the VITA sites.
Based on the journal, you will submit a typewritten reflection paper on your experiences (2-4 typewritten pages) no later than Friday, March 8th (outside room 03–403). This log and reflection paper are meant to be not just a summary of the number of people you assisted (we have to keep separate records on that) but comments and thoughts on new things learned, problems encountered, things you would do differently in retrospect, mistakes you realized you may have made, insights about people’s knowledge of, respect for the tax laws & the IRS, etc.
You will also be required to spend approximately 4 hours learning and using tax preparation and tax research software. A tax return problem will be given out as soon as the 1995 tax preparation software is received and installed. You can complete this assignment at times convenient to you. The completed returns will be due in the box outside room 03-403 by March 8th.
III. DETERMINATION OF GRADE
IRS & California tests:…………………..12
Publicity & 6 clients:…………………….10
Tax preparation, including your attitude
& quality of your work:………………….60
Log & Reflection paper:………………….15
IV. HOURS WORKED
You will be given credit for hours worked at the sites, doing publicity, coordinating activities, learning & doing computer aided research and preparation, etc. Because of these varied possibilities it is your responsibility to keep track of your hours worked and have them verified after each activity by an authorized person (Dr. Carr or a person she designates). You are responsible for fulfilling all your commitments. Last, but not least, you are going to have FUN. I guarantee it!
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