Tax Clinic cited in Ohio State’s presidential honor

The Fisher College of Business Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and its spin-off at the Moritz College of Law were among the 12 OSU community service projects included in a recognition of Ohio State on the Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction awarded by President Bush.

The President’s Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support innovative, effective and exemplary community service programs. Criteria for selection include scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service and the extent to which the school offers service-learning courses.

Bill Raabe
Karen Hopper Wruck
“We are very proud of the hundreds of Fisher students who have volunteered their time and tax expertise to prepare state and federal returns for Columbus residents through the VITA program,” said Bill Raabe, who launched the Tax Clinic at Fisher and teaches graduate tax courses in the MAcc and MBA programs. “This award recognizes the work of our Fisher volunteers over a five year period, as we developed a system to provide high-quality tax services to those individuals in the OSU neighborhood who otherwise could not afford to obtain them.

The Tax Clinic allows students to develop skills in delivering professional services, as they interact with taxpayers to prepare and review tax returns, Raabe said.

Fisher opened the Tax Clinic in 2003 to help low to moderate income families during tax season. The clinic under the leadership of Raabe became a chapter of the Internal Revenue Service’s VITA program during the 2004 tax year. A national program, VITA affiliates include business schools and other volunteer organizations that operate tax worksites.

The Columbus City Council and United Way also partner with Fisher to promote the program to eligible residents, focusing on bringing Earned Income Tax Credit refunds into the Columbus economy. OSU Extension provides organizational support for the clinic, and the Godman Guild community center provides facilities and personnel, according to Raabe.

“I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to Bill Raabe for his dedication and work with VITA and the student volunteers who keep the program going,” said Dick Dietrich, professor and chair of the Accounting and Management Information Systems department.

The Tax Clinic is staffed by more than 50 student volunteers, mostly from the MAcc program. This year, 15 MAcc students took leadership roles as VITA site managers. Additional volunteers are recruited from the MBA program, and the local chapters of Beta Alpha Psi and the Accounting Association.

The OSU Moritz School of Law operates a site that was a 2007 spin-off of the Fisher Tax Clinic. It has adopted the same procedures and customer service functions that the Fisher clinic developed over the years.