College students handing out free tax return assistance

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Updated: 2/13/2014 10:25 am
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- Reno and Sparks residents with an yearly income of $55,000 or less are encouraged to take advantage of a free tax assistance program offered by UNR Business students.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program runs from now through mid-April. It is run by the Community Services Agency, in collaboration with the business school students.

UNR Associate Professor Richard Mason teaches the upper division course on federal income tax and has about 70 students participating in the program. Mason says in the last five years students have volunteered with VITA, they have helped file more than 3,000 tax returns. Their assistance has saved community members more than $100,000 they would have spent at commercial tax preparation firms.

"All of that money goes right back into the community if they're not spending it, it's staying here and for many people their tax refund is a significant amount of money and it's important for them to get it and get it quickly," Mason says.

Mason says students are trained to understand tax codes and the majority are going to school for accounting. He says his students focus on getting residents the returns they are entitled. Mason also oversees their work.

Jordan Steele is a student volunteer in the program. Steele says she's helped residents with about eight returns so far and says because the IRS tax code can be complicated, it is very rewarding to help people. "It's incredible, because everyone has a story and you get to help them maximize their return and get as much money back as possible and these are the people who really need to get the most money back on their return," Steele says.

The tax program takes place at the Community Services Agency, located at 1094 East Eighth Street, every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Services are offered until 9 p.m. on April 15. Appointments are encouraged and can be made by calling 775-786-6023.

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