In addition to a wide variety of social activities, MAcc students also have the opportunity to give back to the community through a number of volunteer efforts. VITA, a tax clinic for low income-taxpayers, is one of the most popular community-service options. Participants get hands-on experience with preparing tax returns while making a difference in the lives of many.
I interviewed current MAcc student and VITA volunteer Carly Jackson to get her take on why all MAccers should participate in this great cause.
What is VITA?
VITA is a program where volunteers prepare tax returns for low-income individuals and families for free.
How can MAcc students get involved?
MAcc students can get involved by attending an interest session during fall semester and then completing the required IRS training. During tax season, volunteers are typically assigned 3-4 volunteer days.
Do you have to have experience with completing tax returns to volunteer?
No prior experience is required! You will be thoroughly trained and will have an IRS publication with the information you need next to you, so you can use that for reference during preparation. Also, there will typically be people on-site with prior tax preparation experience to answer any questions you have and to help you through the experience.
Can I still do VITA even if I am planning on doing audit post-graduation?
Of course you can! A lot of the people that participate in VITA are planning to do audit. I personally feel that it is advantageous to everyone to learn about the basics of taxes because they’re unavoidable and the more you know, the more equipped you are to handle them. Regardless of your intended career path, learning a little bit about tax preparation and using that knowledge to help others is a great thing to do!
What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned while working the tax clinic?
Surprisingly, the biggest lesson I’ve learned while working at the VITA clinic was not tax-related. One of the clients I worked with was going through one of the toughest times I could even imagine, yet still had the most positive outlook on everything and had a genuine joy in their heart. Working with them taught me to never take anything for granted, and to always look for the good in life, because if you look hard enough, you will find it.