VITA offers free tax help to low-income residents

By Tarnell Carroll….
Miami Dade College (MDC) is continuing its long-standing commitment to help lowincome, elderly, and non-English-speaking residents complete their 2010 taxes with the “always free” Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The VITA program is administered and staffed by faculty and MDC business students who volunteer their time to help the public in preparing their tax forms.

Students are trained beforehand and must pass an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) exam of basic rules, regulations, and tax preparation skills before they assist taxpayers. Divided into three groups, their functions are administrative, tax return preparation, and quality review.

The VITA program was started decades ago by the IRS in an attempt to help those who need specialized attention in preparing their tax forms. All MDC VITA sites have the ability to file electronically.

Now in its 17th year of providing free tax assistance to the community, MDC’s Business Department chair Dr. Ana M. Cruz said the program “has been very successful over the years because of our attention to quality.” She added, “MDC faculty supervises each tax assistance site to make sure tax returns are accurate and properly filed with the Internal Revenue Service.”

Federal income tax returns must be in the mail and postmarked no later than Apr. 18 (Apr. 15 is a holiday in the District of Columbia).

Individuals interested in having their taxes done through the MDC VITA program must bring the following documents to the center with them:

• Social Security card and the Social Security cards of any dependents to be claimed;

• Picture ID;

• W-2 earnings statement;

• 1099 MISC (for self-employed individuals only);

• 1099 INT (interest income), and

• Any documents pertaining to expenses to be claimed (receipts, etc.). Below is a list of IRS/MDC VITA tax service locations in the area, their schedules and contact info:

Homestead Campus, 500 College Terr., Room D307, Homestead, FL 33030, by appointment only, through Apr. 7; contact — José Luis Hortensi, VITA coordinator at 305-237-5143; languages spoken — English and Spanish.

Kendall Campus, 11011 SW 104 St., Room 6343/Business Office in Room 6319, Miami, FL 33176; 2-5 p.m. Feb. 8 through Apr. 7; contact — (Laura) Hoa N. Burrows, VITA coordinator at 305- 237-2283; By appointment only, last appointment is at 4 p.m.

Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., ETCOTA Center, Room 7109, Miami, FL 33132; 1-4 p.m., Tuesdays, Feb. 1 through Apr. 5 (closed Mar. 1); contact — Christine Balmori, VITA Coordinator at 305-237-3151; languages spoken — English and Spanish. The center will be accepting customers until 3:30 p.m. and will serve a maximum of 25 customers per Tuesday, whichever comes first.

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