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Cal Poly students help taxpayers file, understand changes in withholding

Posted at 7:01 PM, Feb 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-16 23:19:38-05

Many Americans aren’t receiving the tax refund they’d banked on and instead owe the government due to new tax guidelines in place but Cal Poly accounting students are doing what they can to help people squeeze every penny out of their return.

“I’ve seen multiple people have to owe money, which is regrettable because they haven’t had to in the past,” Cal Poly Senior Danielle Warmerdam, who studies accounting and business administration, said.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed in December of 2017 altered the withholding tables and many Americans didn’t realize the need to adjust their W-4 forms too.

So far this tax season, the U.S. Treasury is seeing an 8 percent decrease in the number of people receiving a refund. About 30 million or around 1 in 5 taxpayers actually owe the government this year.

“It’s mostly shock and like ‘no that can’t be right,'” Warmerdam said of the taxpayers owing money this year.

The new law also includes changes to how dependents are claimed and eliminates moving expenses as a write-off.

Though she’s never filed her own taxes because her parents claim her as a dependent, Warmerdam is trained and certified to prepare tax forms for others, like Cassiey Brimer.

“I tried to do it on my own and got scared,” Brimer said. “I had four W-2s, so I was concerned about how many I had and if they could help me, but they were super helpful.”

The 35 minutes Brimer spent with at the Cal Poly tax clinic paid off.

“It’s a lot bigger than the one last year,” Brimer said.

She plans to put her refund toward a new car.

The Cal Poly tax preparation clinic is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday until the April 15 tax filing deadline.

People who earn less than $54,000 qualify for the assistance and a social security card is required.