LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Filing a tax return and taking advantage of all the breaks can be tough, especially for those who cannot afford professional help. But one group of local accounting students is hoping to change that.

Briana Martin is part of the VITA Free Tax Preparation Program at the university that’s designed to help low-income families. (CBSLA)

“We’re here to help the community, and we just want to provide as much service as we can,” Briana Martin, a Cal State University Long Beach student, said.

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Martin is part of the VITA Free Tax Preparation Program at the university that’s designed to help low-income families.

“We basically provide free income tax preparation to those of low income — students, non-residents, the elderly or those that have limited English proficiency,” she said.

All of the students involved have been certified by the Internal Revenue Service and are there to help Monday through Friday, and appointments are not necessary.

“It’s like a virtual walk-in,” Martin said. “We are all through Zoom, so you can go ahead and bring all your tax documents. You’ll be set up with a preparer in a breakout room through Zoom, and you can have all your tax services prepared there.”

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The service is only for families with an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less, and with all of the changes this year, having someone knowledgeable is key.

“So as we saw last year, a lot of tax payers may have received a 1099-G, which is your unemployment,” Martin said. “And, right now, the IRS is actually talking about having up to $10,000 of that not be taxable income, so that can definitely help out and save us a lot of money.”

But for Martin and all of the other VITA members, it’s all about making a difference.

“It was good that we’re learning as students, but more importantly for the community,” she said. “And after seeing what happened last year, it’s just even more rewarding that we can be a part of a big change to help everybody else.”

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Those seeking more information, or who want to see if they qualify for the free tax preparation, can email the program at vita.csulb@gmail.com.