CSU accounting students are offering tax advice to individuals who qualify through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA is an IRS-certified, free tax-help program that CSU’s College of Business runs on Saturdays. Through the program, accounting students provide free tax help to low- to middle-income individuals ($56,000 annual income or less, with income flexibility on a case-by-case basis).
March 26, April 2, April 9
For individuals who qualify for the VITA program, CSU accounting students are available to help with tax preparation from noon to 4 p.m. on March 26, April 2 and April 9 at CSU’s Rockwell Hall at 501 West Laurel St. Parking is available in the Rockwell Parking Lot 305.
“We are part of the MakeChangeNoco initiative seeking to make a positive impact in Northern Colorado communities through tax help services,” said Kevin Franklin, site coordinator for CSU’s program this year and a CSU accounting student. “While there are other sites during the week that allow signing up in advance, CSU operates on a first come, first served basis.”
It is important to note that although CSU students are there to guide those eligible for the services through the tax process, the responsibility of the tax information on the return is still the individual’s, as with most tax services.
Free tax help
“The focus is to provide free tax help to those who may not normally be able to afford help,” said Franklin. “Many families depend on certain tax refunds, and our mission is to help them with the tax knowledge we’ve gained so far in our coursework at the College of Business.”
About 35 CSU instructors and students are currently donating their time to the VITA program to help prepare tax returns. Most of those assisting with this year’s program are undergraduate or graduate students, many from Beta Alpha Psi, the university’s accounting honor society. Regardless of their educational level, every student who is assisting with the program is required to pass the same IRS certifications to prepare returns.
“Supporting the VITA program not only creates a positive impact in the community, but also aids in the development process of future leaders at CSU,” said Franklin. “Every student in the program has the opportunity to learn unique skills that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Students have the opportunity to provide a professional service that not only requires technical skills, but superb interpersonal and leadership skills. Nothing beats being able to make a positive impact in the community doing something you truly love.”
CSU’s Accounting Department began running the VITA program again last year after a hiatus of a couple decades. Wayne Roberts, a tax accountant and alumnus, was last year’s site coordinator and is passionate about how students can give back.
“This program is an excellent outreach by CSU’s College of Business, and it also helps accounting students to learn the role of tax preparation in individuals’ lives,” said Roberts. “ Many of these students will move on to a job in public accounting, where they have to make a decision between audit and tax; this program allows these students to see the root of what tax is all about: helping. Whether you are helping an individual claim a refund when they made $5,000 last year, or you are helping a public corporation that made $5 billion last year claim a refund, you’re still helping. That’s what this program is all about, students learning that they give back through doing tax, no matter the client.”
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