April 4, 2011

Ohio State Tax Clinic helps families and boosts economy


Corporate recruiters have taken notice of students who have volunteered their time at Fisher’s Tax Clinic during winter quarter.

Jessica Barnhart, a senior accounting major, credits both her Fisher classes and her tax clinic work at Godman Guild Community Center for helping her land a job at Ernst & Young.

Barnhart and more than 20 other students gave up a portion of their weekends during the winter quarter to provide free tax preparation at Fisher’s clinic sponsored by the federal government’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The practice was started eight years ago by William Raabe, a faculty member in the Department of Accounting and MIS. Raabe recruits student volunteers, like Barnhart, directly from his tax course.

“It’s interesting to take that knowledge from the individual tax class and apply it to everyone’s tax return this year and see how it actually works,” Barnhart said. “I now have a lot of experience working with clients.” she said.

Anna Kwok, an Honors Accounting senior and finance major, said her work in Fisher’s Tax Clinic helped her with a career choice.

“I was indecisive about my career goals, because I am in both accounting and finance,” Kwok said. “Being involved with the tax clinic helped me narrow my career goals and decide what I want to do.”

“At Fisher, the tax clinic has a reputation of being one of the best tax clinics in the area,” said Jeff Hehr, who will complete the Master in Accounting program this spring. “I wanted to get involved, because one of the things you don’t get in the classroom is (developing) interpersonal skills.”

Many of the volunteers said giving back to the local community also lured them to the Fisher Tax Clinic. “I was looking for a way to do some community service, but to also use my degree and specialization in accounting,” Barnhart said, who added the experience was very rewarding.

“Every client is memorable,” Kwok said. “Because when you tell them how much they are getting back from their federal tax, when you see the big smile on their face it’s all worth it--volunteering the four to five hour time commitment.”