MIAMI — Miami Dade College is offering low-income, elderly, and non-English-speaking residents help to complete their tax preparation through the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).

The program is administered and staffed by faculty and college business students who volunteer their time to help in preparing tax forms.

A college announcement said the students are trained beforehand and must pass an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) exam of basic rules, regulations and tax preparation skills before they assist taxpayers. The students are divided into three groups: administrative, tax return preparation and quality review.

The IRS started the VITA program decades ago to help those who need specialized attention in preparing their tax forms. The VITA sites at the college can file returns electronically.

MDC is now in its 17th year of providing the service and the college’s business department chairwoman Ana M. Cruz said the program “has been very successful over the years because of our attention to quality.”

“MDC faculty supervises each tax assistance site to make sure tax returns are accurate and properly filed with the Internal Revenue Service,” Cruz said.

Federal income tax returns must be in the mail and postmarked no later than April 18 (the usual deadline date of April 15 is a holiday in the District of Columbia).

Individuals interested in using the VITA service at Miami Dade College must take with them the following documents: Social Security card and the Social Security cards of any dependents to be claimed for deductions, a picture ID; the W-2 earnings statement; the 1099 MISC (for self-employed individuals only); the 1099 INT (interest income) and any documents pertaining to expenses to be claimed (such as receipts).

The VITA program is being offered at the following Miami Dade College locations:

* Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center, 6300 NW Seventh Ave., Room 1209, in Liberty City, Miami, 4-7 p.m. through April 5, with the last appointment at 6 p.m. Contact: Julio Borges, 305-237-1199.  English, with Creole available on request.

* Hialeah Campus, 1776 W. 49th St., Room 324, Building 1800, Hialeah, 4-7 p.m., through April 5, with last appointment at 6 p.m., with a maximum of 25 persons per evening. Contact: Geoffrey Danzig, 305-237-1519. English and Spanish.

* Homestead Campus, 500 College Terrace, Room D307, Homestead. By appointment only, through April 7. Contact: José Luis Hortensi, 305-237-5143. English and Spanish.

* InterAmerican Campus, 627 SW 27th Ave., Room 3207, Miami, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with last appointment at 3 p.m., Wednesdays, through April 5. Contact: Elisa Fernandez, 305-237-6484. English and Spanish.

* Kendall Campus, 11011 SW 104th St., Room 6343/Business Office, Room 6319, Kendall. By appointment, 2-5 p.m., with last appointment at 4 p.m., through April 7. Contact: Hoa (Laura) N. Burrows, 305-237-2283.

* North Campus, 11380 NW 27th Ave., Computer Courtyard, Bldg. 2, Rm. 2201, Second Floor, North Central Miami-Dade, 4-7 p.m., with last appointment at 6 p.m., Tuesdays, through April 5.  Contact: Julio Borges, VITA Coordinator at 305-237-1199. English and Spanish, Creole on request.

*Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., ETCOTA Center, Room 7109, Miami, 1-4 p.m., Tuesdays, through April 5, up to 25 persons per Tuesday, with last appointment at 3:30 p.m. Contact: Christine Balmori, 305-237-3151. English and Spanish.