It’s hard to believe, but another year of VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – is complete! After over 1,000 volunteer hours put in by Fisher students at both the Godman Guild and OSU Law Extension Center, 275 income tax returns were filed for residents around Columbus, Ohio. These returns generated around $425,000 in refunds for these individuals and families, which is an average of about $1,500 per return. VITA was a fantastic learning experience from both a tax technical skills standpoint, as well as a client relationship-building standpoint.
For many student volunteers, VITA is particularly challenging in unexpected ways. Sure, each student completes training and learns how to navigate the tax software and recognize common tax credits and deductions for our clients. However, it can often be difficult to explain tax concepts to our clients. Establishing trust with a client can be difficult in any situation, but it is particularly challenging for some of our clients to put their trust in a 22 or 23-year-old student. I was happy to see all of our student volunteers express patience and kindness with all taxpayers, making sure their questions were answered and asking site managers for help whenever needed.
For those of you who are prospective students or will be starting the MAcc program in August, I highly recommend participating in VITA. You don’t have to be going into tax after graduation; we had plenty of future auditors and corporate accountants help us out this year. VITA is simply a great way to get to know your classmates better and spend some time serving the greater Columbus community.