ETSU business students to offer free tax preparation help

Tax Returns

MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 22: A copy of a IRS 1040 tax form is seen at an H&R Block office on the day President Donald Trump signed the Republican tax cut bill in Washington, DC on December 22, 2017 in Miami, Florida. Kathy Pickering, vice president of regulatory affairs and executive director of The Tax […]

The following is a news release from ETSU:

A group of East Tennessee State University business student volunteers, under the guidance of accountancy faculty member Dr. Michelle Freeman, will offer free tax preparation assistance again this year through the Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

As an approved VITA location, the ETSU group, with financial support from Eastman Credit Union (ECU), will assist taxpayers whose total household income was $55,000 or less during tax year 2018. Volunteers will be available to offer tax preparation services on the following Saturdays – Feb. 16, March 2, 16 and 30, from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sam Wilson Hall, room 318, on ETSU’s main campus.

Taxpayers must have an appointment. No walk-ins will be accepted. Those with an appointment should arrive at least 15 minutes early to check in and fill out a questionnaire used to complete the tax return.

“The tax assistance program provided by ETSU is a great opportunity for the community and the students at ETSU. ECU’s contribution provides for basic office expenses and supplies. Partnerships in programs like this one is a win-win for all involved,” said Olan O. Jones, CEO and president of ECU.

Last year, about 25 graduate and undergraduate students successfully completed IRS certification requirements in order to volunteer. Those volunteers were able to prepare and assist members of the public with over 150 tax returns.

In addition to free basic income tax return preparation and electronic filing, volunteers will inform taxpayers about special tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

Taxpayers are required to remain on site as the return is completed (for married filing joint returns both spouses must be present). While every effort is made to complete the return in a timely and efficient manner, taxpayers should be advised the average wait to have a return completed is an hour. More complex matters may take longer, so patience and understanding are greatly appreciated.

Those who wish to have their tax return prepared at the ETSU VITA site must have the following items in order to complete the tax return:

* Proof of identification – state or federal government issued picture ID

* Social Security Cards for the taxpayer, spouse and any dependents on the tax return

* Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents if you do not have a Social Security number

* Birth dates for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents on the tax return

* Wage and earning statement(s) from all employers, including any W-2, W-2G 1099-R, 1099-Misc.

* Information regarding other income sources, if applicable

* Information for all deductions / credits, if applicable

* Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)

* Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received

* Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements, if applicable

* A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available

* Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable

* Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit, such as a blank check

* Total amounts paid to daycare provider(s) and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or business Employer Identification Number), if appropriate

* Copies of 1099-T for tuition and fees paid by the taxpayer, spouse and any dependents if applicable; and

* To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

Some of the more complex tax items are outside the scope of the ETSU VITA program. If your tax return includes any of the following items, ETSU VITA will NOT be able prepare your tax return:

* Taxpayers who cannot substantiate their identity with a method mentioned above

* Household income greater than $55,000

* Health savings accounts

* Rental income

* Cancellation of debt

This list is not comprehensive. Other tax items may fall beyond the scope of the ETSU VITA program.

Sam Wilson Hall is located at 200 Ross Drive, Johnson City. For more information or to make an appointment, contact Valerie Swartz at 423-439-4432 or If you have additional questions regarding the type of tax returns that can be filed by ETSU VITA, please contact Dr. Michelle Freeman at For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

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