Fairfield University opens free tax return preparation office for low-income residents

Fairfield University Dolan School of Business students aim to help low-income taxpayers obtain all credits, refunds due.

Individuals and families with annual incomes $60,000 and below are eligible to have their tax returns prepared for free at Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business.

The complimentary service is part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in coordination with the Connecticut Association of Human Services (CAHS) and other organizations including the United Way. The goal is to help low income taxpayers file their income tax returns and obtain all tax credits they are eligible for including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). “These are important tax benefits that can result in significant refunds and make a difference,” said Ahmed M. Ebrahim, CPA, Ph.D., associate professor of accounting at Fairfield.

The Dolan School of Business VITA site on the Fairfield campus will be open Fridays, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., from February 13 through March 13, 2015. This site will accept clients with incomes up to $60,000. It is by appointment only. Please email Patricia Pivarnik at ppivarnik@fairfield.edu or call 203-254-4307.

There are also VITA offices in Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, and additional locations in Connecticut. At those locations, the annual income limit to have your taxes prepared is $54,000 and below. For locations, hours and contact information, please visit  http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Find-a-Location-for-Free-Tax-Prep .

The VITA sites in the area are being staffed by students and faculty from the Dolan School of Business, as well as other volunteers who completed both a technical and professional conduct certification process under I.R.S. supervision.

Dr. Ebrahim is coordinating the second biggest VITA site in the Greater Bridgeport area in terms of the number of returns filed and refunds generated during the 2014 tax season - the BICC Site at 525 Clinton Ave, Bridgeport. “During the last tax season of 2014, our site in Bridgeport and our Dolan School of Business service filed tax returns for over 450 clients and helped to generate over $1 Million of refunds,” he said.

Dolan School of Business students volunteering at VITA sites are mostly accounting majors enrolled in the elective course, ‘Individual Taxation: Socioeconomic Applications,’ which includes a service-learning component. At the same time, students gain I.R.S. tax prep experience to make them career ready.  “Accounting students taking our service learning course (AC 344) serve as volunteer tax preparers in many of these sites including the one I am coordinating,” noted Dr. Ebrahim. “Other students volunteer as a service to the community.”

VITA services offered include electronic filing (federal and state); direct deposit refunds; and retired and self-employed income tax return preparation. Volunteers also help advise clients on benefits screening, financial education and how to turn refunds into long-term financial security.

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