12/12/2013 7:53:21 PM
An Assist for the Tax Payer
Monday, April 08, 2013
By: Chelsea Platt '13
Approximately 40 Siena students have been helping Capital Region residents file their tax returns through the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program this spring. The students have been volunteering at various locations helping those in need.
“As an accounting major this opportunity gave me a glance into my future career,” said Nicholas Spinelli ’13, who plans to be a certified management accountant.
The VITA program not only allows students to work in exciting, real-life situations, but it also encourages interaction with a diverse group of residents in the area.
“Getting involved has allowed me to utitlize my education to benefit others, something St. Francis taught us all to do,” said Spinelli.
Linda Cioffi ’86, site coordinator of the Albany Public Library, has seen the positive impact that program has made over the last few years.
“What stands out to me is the students’ willingness to jump right in and pick up what needs to be done,” said Cioffi. “They could work independently and treat their clients with respect and care.”
The student volunteers are recruited by Elaine Phelan ’78, director of the M.S. accounting program, who has been leading the VITA program at Siena since the fall of 2010. Phelan and Andrea Hotaling, associate professor of accounting, work with the students to make sure they are trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service, which also provides the TaxWise software. The Albany Public Library is the primary location where the Siena students offer their services. The library has generously offered supplies, the computers and the space.
“"I am so proud of our students. They are not only enhancing their own tax and accounting skills, but they are also serving others with their talents. This tax season students assisted Siena employees with their tax returns as well,” Phelan said.
The community-based program provides free tax preparation for thousands of taxpayers each year. The VITA program has been in existence since 1971 when it was founded by Gary Iskowitz at California State University Northridge. It has since expanded to a nationwide initiative that combines the student need for hands-on experience with the community need for free tax services.
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