For the 36th year in a row, Western New Mexico University students are offering tax help to seniors and low-income families here in one of New Mexico’s most rural and underserved areas. This free service, called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and supported by Tax Help NM, is for people whose household income is $54,000 or less and for those who are 65 years or older.
The Tax Help NM volunteers – Western New Mexico University business and accounting students by day – are certified by the IRS and are trained to help taxpayers identify tax credits.
“The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program benefits our students and community,” said Dr. Laurie Barfitt, the Western New Mexico University faculty member who sponsors this program. “Students can walk out of here with their degrees saying that they’ve done 50 to 100 tax returns already. The community benefits because they don’t have to pay for this service as long as they meet the requirements.”
Local certified public accountant Linda McGee initiated the program at Western New Mexico University in 1982. Today, Western New Mexico University students donate an average of 400 hours during the few weeks the service is offered annually.
Over the last three recorded years, the student volunteers served 1,604 people, filing 2,959 returns and bringing $1.5 million back to the community through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at Western New Mexico University.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at Western New Mexico University aids individuals, couples and families, who return year after year to receive the service, Dr. Barfitt said. “We take care of many elderly people who are getting social security, low-income families that get earned income credit and disabled or limited English speaking people.”
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at Western New Mexico University will start the week of Feb. 12. and close April 6, 2018.
People may come to Light Hall on the Western New Mexico University campus (1000 W. College Ave.) for help filing their taxes on Mondays and Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Tuesdays between noon and 5:30 p.m. or Thursdays between 3 and 6 p.m. Service is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Each individual must bring an original Social Security Card, a picture ID, W-2s or 1099s from all employers and a bank account with routing number for direct deposit, which is optional.
More information about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program provided by the School of Business at Western New Mexico University is available at sb.wnmu.edu/tax.