It’s tax season again, my friends. Prepare to prepare.

ETSU has partnered with Eastman Credit Union in holding an event which offers assistance to students, faculty, and the general public in filing taxes during this year’s tax season. Led by ETSU Accountancy faculty, Dr. Anthony Masino and Dr. Michelle Freeman, the Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will be held on the following Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in 318 Sam Wilson Hall: Feb. 10 and 24, March 10 and 24.

Anthony Masino is a CPA as well as an attorney, and he has been working with the Accountancy Department at ETSU since fall 2012. Masino is also an outspoken advocate for the VITA program: “It is a much needed tax service for low to moderate income taxpayers [and] it provides real world experience for students who are trying to gain valuable knowledge as well as which path their future career may take [tax or audit].”

The event is open to the public, and the tax preparers involved are students and faculty members as well as graduates of ETSU’s Accountancy program. In fact, the program assists over 300 taxpayers annually—a truly generous service which is offered free of charge to anyone who needs assistance in completing tortuously confusing government tax documentation. So, whether or not you are stricken with a new layer of terror each year at the dawn of tax season, it always helps to have someone who knows the system better.

So what can I do to simplify things for myself?

“For every IRS tax form, it has a corresponding field trip buddy called instructions,” said Masino. “While the IRS gets picked on quite a bit, the IRS does a pretty good job with its instructions and publications breaking down complex material.”

Oh, and before you set your eyes on that brand new 4K UHD 75 inch screen, you may want to consider this question: Will the government shutdown have any impact on tax returns?

According to Dr. Masino, “It shouldn’t, but it is the government. It may delay payment of refunds.”