For the second year, Hillsdale College students will volunteer for the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program through the Hillsdale Community Action Agency.
Students participating in VITA will help citizens of Hillsdale County file their taxes. Previous tax experience is not required, but volunteers must take a training course and pass an exam. Last year, all 13 Hillsdale students who took the test passed.
“VITA provides a tremendous service to the community,” said Professor of Accounting and department chair Michael Sweeney. “This kind of service usually requires people to pay a lot of money that they cannot.”
The program runs from January to April, and students are not required to complete a specific number of hours to participate.
The Accounting Club, which hosts VITA, will have its first informational meeting on Nov. 19. Sweeney encourages all students to consider the program.
“You do not have to be an accounting student to participate,” he said. “VITA is a great thing. It gives you experience with one-on-one contact with a taxpayer and you are really helping out the community.”
Senior Matthew Kidd, president of the accounting club, participated in VITA last year. He found that volunteering did not require “any accounting knowledge to take part in it.”
But Sweeney said that accounting students will gain experience in learning the tax code through the program.
Students will not be held liable for any mistakes that they make while assisting with returns. A supervisor, who will be consistently on-site to help volunteers, will review all tax returns.
Students can also receive internship credit through their involvement in VITA. Interns are required to have 40 hours of service and have all their work reviewed a supervisor.
In 2011, through the combined work of students, Hillsdale volunteered 750 hours through VITA.
Kidd said that VITA was a valuable point on his resume.
“Most of the places I interviewed at asked me about VITA because it’s a nationally known organization,” he said. “It also feels good to give back to the community.”