An annual tradition at Fisher and Ohio State, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program continues to make a positive difference in the lives of central Ohioans.
VITA connects accounting students at Fisher with low-income individuals and people with disabilities or limited English skills to provide them with free assistance in preparing tax returns. In 2018, 40 volunteers from Fisher helped prepare 175 tax returns, which garnered $265,000 in refunds for VITA clients.
Stephanie Paxton (BSBA ’12), an analyst for the domestic tax group at Abercrombie & Fitch, returned to Fisher to serve as an alumni volunteer for the VITA program. Paxton shared her thoughts on the experience.
Why did you decide to volunteer for VITA?
"My time with VITA was so rewarding in the past that I wanted to continue to be involved. I love that this program exists to help taxpayers in the local community! By preparing their returns, I feel like I’m providing a valuable service and giving back.
What were your duties as part of this past year’s event? I was a site manager, so I ensured that taxpayers each had a volunteer preparer to assist them with their returns, answered questions that arose during tax return preparation, prepared returns as needed, amended returns as needed, contacted taxpayers with IRS return rejection issues, and collected e-file paperwork."
How fulfilling is it to put your accounting education and experience to use in a volunteer capacity?
"I feel like I was making a real impact by using the knowledge gained from my education and experience to impact someone else’s life. The taxpayers who receive help from VITA are generally very appreciative of the help."
What does it say to you that the VITA program has been a part of the accounting experience at Fisher for so long?
The seasons pass, the years will roll / Time and change will surely show / How firm thy friendship, Ohio!
"These aren’t just words in “Carmen Ohio,” but they also live on through Fisher’s involvement with the Columbus community. Ohio State isn’t just supporting its students and faculty year after year, it is also lending a helping hand to the community."
What would you say to other alumni who might be interested in helping out with VITA?
"The gratification of helping others through VITA is palpable. VITA brings together current students and working professionals to provide tax services that benefit the greater good of a community. Helping with VITA is a small time commitment (just a few weekends out of the spring tax season), but it creates a huge impact."