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BHSU accounting students provide tax assistance

Accounting students at Black Hills State University will be available to help area residents with income tax preparation assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).

The student tax assistance program will be available Feb. 14 through April 17. The student tax preparers will be at David B. Miller Student Union multipurpose room (2nd floor) Mondays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., excluding national holidays.

VITA offers free assistance to those with special needs, including persons with disabilities, and older taxpayers who file Form 1040EZ, Form 1040A, or a basic Form 1040 federal tax return. VITA volunteers also alert taxpayers to special credits and deductions for which they may be eligible.

Taxpayers who visit a VITA site should bring this year's tax package, wage and earnings statement (Form W-2) from all employers, interest statements from banks (Form 1099), a copy of last year's tax return, if available, and other relevant information about income, and expenses.

Dr. Larry Cozort, assistant professor of accounting at BHSU and VITA coordinator, has nine student volunteers participating in this year's VITA program. The

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student volunteers have completed the individual income tax course at BHSU, passed an IRS test on individual income taxation, and attended an IRS training session.

The BH accounting professor noted that his year, for the first time, returns will be filed electronically.

Cozort reminds the public that VITA is a self-help program. Student volunteers are only expected to help with basic tax forms and with basic deductions. They are not expected to do complicated returns such as those with Schedule C businesses and complex or numerous sales and exchanges of property. The students are giving their time to help people in the community with their basic tax returns, particularly the elderly, handicapped, and students. There is no charge for this service.

Students participating in the VITA program are Scott Biggin, Spearfish; Kathryn Fanning, Spearfish; Ryan Maher, Isabel; Dylan Wilde, Lake Preston; Deborah Penning, Sundance, Wyo.; Amy Sharkey, Spearfish; Michael Solano, Rapid City; Michelle Pravecek, Winner; and Joseph Otter, Faulkton.

For additional information on the VITA program, contact Larry Cozort, VITA coordinator at 642-6869.