Cal Poly to Provide Free Tax Preparation for Underserved Communities

Student preparing tax returns through VITA

For the 25th consecutive year, Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business is providing free tax return preparation assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Cal Poly’s on-campus VITA clinics will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from Jan. 28 through March 18.

In addition, the service will be offered at two off-campus locations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria from Jan. 28 through April 1.

More than 125 Cal Poly accounting students will prepare tax returns as part of this year’s VITA program, which is sanctioned and coordinated by the Internal Revenue Service and California Franchise Tax Board. These IRS-certified students will prepare returns; Orfalea College of Business faculty and volunteer certified public accountants will review and file the returns. Students will prepare basic forms for local individuals and families earning less than $54,000. These include 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 540, 540A, 540EZ and some supporting forms..

The Cal Poly clinic will be held on the third floor of the Business Building (No. 3). Visitors should enter the campus on California Boulevard and follow the signs to the Orfalea College of Business. Parking is free and available in lots C4 and C7 near the Business Building. The clinic is wheelchair accessible. No appointments are needed; people will be served on a first-come basis. Community members should arrive at Cal Poly before 1 p.m. to allow sufficient time to complete returns accurately.

Participants are asked to bring their Social Security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, 2015 tax returns and all 2016 tax-related documents, including child-care expenses and health insurance coverage information.

Clients have the option of filling out necessary forms available on the VITA program website, dropping them off at the clinic, and returning the following weekend to review the tax return and sign necessary documents. Cal Poly students and faculty will also provide a free financial literacy seminar to participants at noon starting Feb. 4.

Students will also staff additional VITA clinics at two other Central Coast locations in partnership with the United Way of Northern Santa Barbara County. These include:

  • America’s Job Center of California
    880 Industrial Way, San Luis Obispo
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Jan. 28 through April 1 (closed Feb. 18 and March 25)
    By appointment only; call 805-922-0329, ext. 103
  • Allan Hancock College Community Education Center (Building S)
    800 S. College Drive, Santa Maria
    Open Saturdays, Jan. 28 through April 1 (closed Feb. 18 and March 25)
    By appointment only; call 805-922-0329, ext. 103

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business has been hosting VITA clinics on campus since 1992. In the last decade, students have helped prepare more than 7,000 tax returns for community members. The clinics serve as a valuable, hands-on senior project, allowing students to prepare returns, interact with clients and help underserved communities.

Students also have the chance to work with faculty members and tax professionals. This year’s VITA program is led by Cal Poly faculty members Trisha Anderson and Catherine “Michelle” Curry of San Luis Obispo-based Radakovich, Shaw & Blythe LLP, Certified Public Accountants.

For more information, call 805-756-2667 (English and Spanish) or visit For more details on the United Way clinics, call 805-922-0329, ext. 103.