Penny Wise: April 15 tax deadline fast approaching

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VITA offers free tax return preparation.

By Pam Paz

For some, filing taxes is tricky.

Accounting sophomore Sonia Delarosa said the biggest mistake students make when filing taxes is not disclosing that their parents have claimed them as dependents.

Delarosa is one of many tax volunteers at St. Philip’s College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which has provided free income tax services for 22 years to community members and families who earn up to $60,000 per year.

Parents who provide more than 50 percent of financial support for at least six months of the year can claim the student. Students who file independently and are claimed by their parents must disclose this or risk their return being rejected by the Internal Revenue Service.

The key to maximizing refunds is keeping an expense log and receipts for any education-related expenses not covered by financial aid, she said.

Accounting Adjunct Kenneth Bankston has been the site leader for VITA for 14 years. He said traffic has picked up in the last week. “There’s always those last-minute stragglers,” he said.

Last year, VITA processed $7.3 million in refunds for more than 3,500 local clients, according to the group’s web page on the St Philip’s site at http://alamo.edu.

On April 1 in Room 110 of Bowden Building at SPC, Delarosa and other student volunteers assisted five families while another family waited.

Retired Army and St. Philip’s alumnus Alfred “Al” Trigg is another VITA volunteer. “It’s easy, quick and most important, it’s free for students,” he said.

While VITA is a free service for students and the community, some prefer to use tax preparation services, such as H&R Block and TurboTax.

Regardless of what service students choose to use, they must file by the deadline April 15.

Students who filled out a FAFSA before filing taxes and checked the “to fill out taxes” box can turn in to the financial aid office their parents’ and personal tax receipt from the IRS.

For more information about deadlines, call the financial aid office at 210-486-9282.

Search student and higher education at www.IRS.gov for information about education credits, deductions and student aid.

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