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Free tax return clinics offer real-world experience for Cal Poly students

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Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 04, 2023

Tax season is underway for those looking to get a head start on filing their returns.

Dozens of Cal Poly students were out in full force Saturday helping people prepare and file their tax returns.

Accounting students are getting real-world experience in preparing tax returns with the goal of helping people save money.

“We ensure that everyone gets their maximum tax return. Instead of letting everyone figure it out on their own, we’re here to give you those nice tips and tricks,” said Brandon MacDonald who is volunteering at the clinic.

The university offersfree tax assistance every yearfor people with an annual income of $60,000 or less.

“We have the best interests for people. We’re here to serve and be a positive force for the community,” said volunteer Maverick Klazura.

The volunteers are accounting students certified by the IRS.

MacDonald says taxes impact just about everyone, and there's no escaping them.

“Taxes have always been such an interesting topic. Benjamin Franklin said there’s two things you can’t avoid: death and taxes,” he explained. “So, if you’re involved in taxes, you’ll be involved in everybody’s personal life.”

Organizers say free clinics like these remove barriers for low and moderate-income taxpayers.

“Some problems people come across is that they’re not able to go to a regular tax preparer that might charge them 100 or 200 dollars,” said volunteer Jazmin Leon.

Taxes can also be complicated.

“My client--I’m not going to specify or anything-- was out of state so you have to figure out ‘can I continue with this return if they don’t have the documents, etc.” explained Klazura.

Cal Poly students are also volunteering at clinics in Santa Maria and Oceano.

“For most people, it’s ease of access. It simplifies the whole process,” said Klazura.

Volunteers add that they’re already seeing a strong turnout.

“This year’s clinic seems to be a little more busier than last year’s,” said Leon.

The deadline to file taxes has been extended to May 15th for California counties impacted by January’s storm, which includes the Central Coast.

The free clinics accept appointments as well as walk-ins.