Cal Poly Pomona has expanded its free income tax preparation program to better help people in the Pomona Valley.
Those whose 2009 gross yearly income was $50,000 or less are eligible to receive assistance in filing federal and state income tax returns at three Pomona locations. Last year, eligibility was limited those who earned $40,000 a year, and only two centers were staffed.
The popularity of the program among student volunteers, coupled with community need, allowed for the expansion, says accounting Professor Ahmed M. Abo-Hebeish.
“Serving members of the community is one of the highest rewards any person can achieve,” Abo-Hebeish says. “This year, our goal is to prepare 500 federal and state tax returns. We invite everyone regardless where they reside to stop by and let us serve.”
The free income tax preparation program is offered as part of a course, service learning in taxation, taught by Abo-Hebeish, who also is a certified public accountant. This year, 60 students and volunteers will participate and all have been trained on professional tax software provided by the Internal Revenue Service. They have also studied IRS training manuals and have passed two rigorous tests.
The students are well versed in tax credits, especially those that affect low-income families, such as the earned income tax credit. People who are not required to file an income tax return may be eligible for certain credits. In 2009, Cal Poly Pomona students successfully filed 238 tax returns with a cumulative refund exceeding $218,000.
Most of the students speak more than one language, including Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, to better assist the community. The service is funded by the College of Business Administration and the accounting department in conjunction with the Inland Empire United Way.
People can receive assistance at the following Pomona locations: Boys & Girls Club, 1420 Garey Ave.; Inland Empire Credit Union-Pomona, 435 W. Mission Blvd., Suite 100; and YMCA of Pomona Valley, 350 N. Garey Ave. The service is available on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from Feb. 13 through April 10. No appointment is necessary.