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Accounting students provide free tax services

March 24, 2011, Whitney Schaefer

${image-alt} Accounting students volunteered their time Saturday, March 26, 2011, to help members of the community prepare their income tax returns.

Students in the School of Accountancy are putting their education to good use by helping members of the community. Through the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, these students are giving up their Saturday mornings to provide free tax return preparation services.

The VITA program is available for low- to moderate-income people. All of the preparers are nonpaid volunteers who must be certified by passing a test provided by the IRS. Beta Alpha Psi, the honorary business fraternity for accounting majors, has been putting on the program for more than 25 years. All of its members are required to attend at least one session, however all accounting majors who have either taken or are enrolled in the Introduction to Taxation class are encouraged to volunteer.

“Of the many community service projects our Beta Alpha Psi chapter sponsors, I am especially proud to be part of the Internal Revenue Service’s VITA program,” says Ray Rodriguez, chapter advisor for Beta Alpha Psi. “In addition to well over one hundred tax returns we will prepare free-of-charge to members of our community, our VITA program provides real world experience for dozens of SIUC accounting students. Our students are able to experience various true tax scenarios that go far beyond the class assignments found in the back of the textbook chapters.”

The Director of the Stakeholder Partnerships, Education, and Communication, Julieta D. Garcia, at the Internal Revenue Service praised the SIUC Beta Alpha Psi chapter for joining other IRS partners and doing an incredible job of providing a much-needed service to communities across the nation. She noted that the SIUC chapter is especially valued by those segments of the population who are low-income, elderly, and/or have disabilities – among others.

The VITA program at SIUC is available every Saturday from 8 AM to 12 PM through April 16th. The services are intended for those with an annual income of $35,000 or below, no itemized deductions, and no farm, rental, or business income. If you have any questions, please contact site coordinators Gloria Hernandez (gloria88@siu.edu), Amy Lamb (goldal@siu.edu), or Whitney Schaefer (wschaefer@siu.edu).