Sac State accounting students volunteer free tax help for low-income taxpayers

The California EITC event provided tax assistance to the Sacramento community


Luis Platero - The State Hornet

Sac State student volunteer Karandeep Gill assists an attendee with preparing his tax documents. The assistance was part of the free tax preparation event.

Luis Platero

Sacramento State student volunteers provided free tax preparation assistance to low-income taxpayers at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services Saturday.

Volunteers would look through an attendee’s required tax documents to help them file their tax returns and find out if they qualified for certain tax credits such as the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC).

Sac State accounting students were trained to prepare taxes for the event through the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, according to assistant professor Elizabeth Lyon.

Student volunteer Gary Meng credited the training for a successful experience during his first time volunteering. Meng believes the event could provide valuable experience for his future endeavors.

“Personally, when I start my career, I want to work in tax and it’s just a great opportunity to start to that,” said Meng.

Each help station had a sign with a question mark on it that volunteers could raise when they needed further assistance from coordinators, such as Lyon, who oversaw the event.

Attendees with appointments checked in at a front desk by representatives of Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), who sponsored the event. SMUD Energy Specialist Brian Puich said that they had about 80 appointments scheduled for the day.

Luis Platero – The State Hornet
SMUD representative Brian Puich speaks to an attendee at the front desk of Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. Puich was helping check-in appointments for the free tax preparation event.

“This is usually one of the busiest [VITA events] typically,” Puich said.

Every attendee received gift bags after their appointment from Puich and his partner that contained small gifts such as a SMUD clock.

One attendee, Katherine Baer, said she previously had a positive experience at a VITA tax preparation event, but was disappointed last year when she received help filing with another organization with negative results.

This year, Baer decided to attend this VITA event in hopes of a better experience and expressed her gratitude to the volunteers.

“I got some of the greatest volunteers up there,” Baer said. “They were really awesome.”

The event was the first of two planned free tax preparation events worked by Sac State student volunteers. The next tax event will be on Saturday, March 16 at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

Sac State students who could use assistance with their taxes are encouraged to attend.

“It’s free,” said Meng. “If you want someone else to do (your taxes), then come on by.”