The winter months at the Fisher College of Business bring the 2012 tax filing season and volunteer opportunities with VITA! The VITA program (volunteer income tax associate) is a chapter of the IRS’ community service initiatives that provides free tax preparation services to low income neighborhoods in the Columbus area. Fisher accounting undergraduate students and MAcc students have the opportunity to volunteer their services to assist the program from late January to early March. Fisher provides two site locations to individuals seeking free tax services. It is a great way to give back to the community, while also learning more about the tax system. The program was founded in 2003 by the MAcc program’s very own, Professor Raabe, and has provided over $4 million in tax refunds and services valued $1.2 million since the formation.
In order to participate in the VITA program, students must go through basic and intermediate training through the IRS. Training consists of realistic tax scenarios and applying the IRS tax code. Then, tax software training is required using “tax wise” systems. Simulations were created for software training to allow students to file a “fake” return using typical tax information a client may provide. The training provides an excellent opportunity to understand the structure of the tax code, learn the basics of individual tax returns, and ultimately take this knowledge with us to our career.
This past Friday marked the opening session of VITA and I had the opportunity of participating. For some, if not most, of our clients, this will provide the biggest pay day of the year. It was amazing to instill such extreme happiness in the VITA clients upon hearing the news of their tax refunds and I cannot wait to continue this throughout the rest of my time with VITA this season. Check out this video to learn more about VITA.