Tax service offers help to students, community

The Volunteer Tax Assistance program (VITA) is nearing the end of its operating length. Beginning in January and running until April, the VITA program enlists the help of trained volunteers to prepare tax returns free of charge for low-income households.
Sponsored by United Way of the Quad Cities, this program provides financial services to many individuals who may not be able to receive them otherwise.
Janene Finley, associate professor of accounting, is in charge of supervising the program at Augustana. Finley emphasized the multiple functions that this program serves.
“The VITA program provides the opportunity for students to help the Quad Cities community and learn about tax preparation…students may also receive credit for participating in VITA if they enroll in the Income Tax Learning Community,” said Finley.
In cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), this program affords accounting, business administration and economics students a unique opportunity to gain real life experience, engage in the community and receive academic credit. Students who complete the VITA program in conjunction with a tax accounting course also fulfill their learning community (LC)
In order for a volunteer to become certified they must complete basic IRS training. There are two training sessions followed by an automated test focusing on the various types of tax forms including W2, social security and earned income credit.
Finley noted that although most students take the course as a learning community, there are preparation materials available for students who have completed tax classes.
Junior Ryan Muzzarelli, an accounting student, is currently participating in VITA and stressed how important the program is when applying for jobs in the
“It shows future employers that you helped out the community and have real-world experience,” said Muzzarelli.
Muzzarelli also said that he has emphasized this experience on his resume as he applied for
In the past, students have used this experience to help land them internships and jobs.
Danilo Panici, a senior accounting student, completed the VITA program last winter. Since then he has completed an auditing internship at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PcW) accounting firm. Based on a 2014 revenue reports, PwC is one of the largest four international professional service networks.
Panici said his VITA experience gave him “an understanding of how businesses do their taxes when I was looking into their books.”
While working at one of the numerous sites across the Quad Cities, volunteers receive guidance from the site coordinators and quality reviewers. These individuals are responsible for checking the quality of the students work to ensure no errors were made.