Business Administration students at South Texas College are offering free tax preparation and filing assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, a free and professional service to file tax returns for residents of Hidalgo and Starr counties.

STC VITA is available at the college’s Technology Campus located at the corner of Ware Road and Military Highway, East Building, Library Room 130. Assistance is available Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 872-2702 or e-mail vita1stc@yahoo.com.

The VITA Program is aimed at taxpayers who file simple W-2 returns with incomes under $50,000. The service is not available for small businesses, farmers, or taxpayers who choose to itemize deductions.

“We process simple W-2 returns and e-file them so that the taxpayers can receive their refunds in two to three weeks,” said John Wilson, STC accounting instructor, CPA and coordinator of the STC VITA Program. “While our services are limited, we do aim to help low-income taxpayers through the IRS filing process. Last year we filed 275 tax returns resulting in more than $400,000 in refunds.”

Individuals interested in filing their tax returns through the program must present their W-2 forms, original social security cards, and driver’s licenses. Those claiming children as dependants must provide children’s original social security cards.

“Most people qualify for a refund, so the taxpayers should bring along their bank checking account number and the bank routing number, which can be retrieved from a check or bank identification card,” added Wilson.