By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
Only death and taxes are guaranteed in life, and Fort Hays State University students are helping make the latter easier.
People seeking guidance filing their paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service can sign-up for free assistance. The 2014 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program started Tuesday and will continue nine more days.
The sessions through February and March are from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesday, and two Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
Upper-level accounting students work with filers. Program qualifications include having an income of less than $51,000 and using forms labeled 1040EZ, 1040A or 1040 and schedules A, B and EIC.
A valid picture ID, Social Security cards for participants, spouses or dependents, and copies of W-2, W-2G, 1098 and 1099 forms are required. Both spouses need to be present for a joint filing.
Charlie Gnizak, FHSU professor of accounting, said the program has been offered for approximately 15 years. The community service helps the students' professional development.
"It's what they call service-learning," Gnizak said. "The students are doing tax returns, and it's related to something they're learning in class, or they worked on in class."
Approximately 150 returns are filed each year through the program.
Cole Engel, accounting instructor, said the upper-level students are trained to complete the electronic filings, and instructors review their work. The process takes an average of 30 minutes.
"The real thing is very different, because this is what would happen in life, somebody's real circumstance and being able to help them, and it brings it to life," said Kendra Madron, a senior accounting major.
Kade Bloom, Hays, said using the program made it less stressful on him and his wife, Emily. The two said they would recommend the service to others.
Call (785) 628-5805 to make an appointment, or visit www.fhsu.edu/efa/vita for more information. The sessions are in McCartney Hall in Room 116.