Business students work with IRS program

By Jessica Wang

Tax Day, Cal Poly Pomona’s annual on-campus event to assist low-income families file tax returns, is set to return to campus on March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the College of Business Administration.

Tax Day is put on by CPP’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program through partnership with California’s Board of Equalization and is sponsored by the IRS, Inland Empire United Way, California’s Franchise Tax Board and the CPP Accounting Department.

The VITA program is composed of students and alumni from the Accounting Department who have undergone extensive IRS training and examinations.

The program seeks to provide free income tax preparation for students, staff and the overall campus community with a gross income of $51,000 or less. Faculty members who possess their own public accountant credentials also oversee the certified students.

According to Nas Ahadiat, chair of CPP’s Accounting Department, the process of training involves students enrolling in a two-unit course for the program during winter quarter under the guidance of CPP faculty and IRS agents, since tax season falls in the winter.

Ahadiat stated that while training with IRS agents has been in person in the past, the process is now completed through webinars.

Ahadiat further explained the lengthy preparation process for tax season and stated that site selection occurs as early as the summer. Site selection refers to other locations within the local community where CPP students assist individuals with tax returns.

In addition to the event on campus, CPP has held Tax Days across Pomona at locations such as the Pomona Valley YMCA, the Pomona Public Library and the Boys & Girls Club of Pomona Valley. According to Ahadiat, the same locations will be utilized this season with the addition of the West Covina Library.

“[VITA] is a really good service available to all of our students if they have income and they want to get free tax returns,” said Ahadiat, citing that many students may be unaware of the fact that the program is completely free of charge.

Yan-Shu Zhao, a lecturer at CPP and certified public accountant, oversees the two-unit VITA program this year and stated that there are about 120 volunteers for Tax Day this season.

The overall goal of the program, according to Zhao, is to give students the hands-on experience and ultimately transition from book knowledge to real practice.

The most rewarding aspect of the program for Zhao has been the ability to help with what she called a great group of students acquiring real world skills rather than only studying from textbooks.

“When you learn tax it’s [like learning] how to drive, but you’re on the passenger side,” said Zhao. “Until you really prepare tax returns, then that will pull you to the driver’s seat, and you get a better understanding of what it takes to be a driver ” same thing with this tax program.”

Zhao advises the campus community to make appointments as soon as possible through the Board of Equalization’s website, since the large crowd of drop-ins last year resulted in individuals having to be turned away. Appointments are not required at the off-campus sites.

Zhao also stressed the importance of bringing the required documents, such as prior tax returns, social security information and a driver’s license. A full list of required documents can be found on the College of Business Administration’s home page.

Ronald James (’15, accounting) participated in the program in 2015 and will once again be returning to volunteer this year.

James said the experience of giving back to the community, interacting with the public and acquiring responsibility and effective communication skills was the most rewarding aspect of being involved in the program.

“It’s one thing when you’re in the class [because] you don’t see how you’re helping people,” said James. “But [with volunteering], you actually see the impact in lives, so it’s more impressionable and personal when you’re dealing with people outside of a classroom.”

CPP’s Tax Day event will also include a Family Resource Fair, where numerous organizations will offer services and discounts to families and the elderly.

To register for the on-campus event, visit the Board of Equalization’s website or call 1-866-910-9559.

Tax Day

Sungah Choi / The Poly Post

Tax Day

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