The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program class began at the start of the spring term. The 36 Ivy students spent the first four to five weeks in lecture, learning how to prepare tax returns. Taxpayers with household incomes of $58,000 or less are eligible for this program. Students were required to pass several certification exams given by the IRS before participating. Beginning on February 21, the students prepared taxes every Monday and Wednesday night through April 13.
Each student gets assigned a client and has the opportunity to be a tax preparer. They have to analyze tax data, review the tax laws, and make instant decisions about how they will handle income, deduction, and credit items. After the student prepares the return, it must go through a quality review process where someone double-checks the accuracy of the return. The majority of the returns were electronically filed for the clients.
“I feel as though VITA helped me in my future career as a tax associate. It helped me understand taxes better, and overall, I thought it was a fun opportunity!” – Makenna Plender, senior studying accounting.
The students were able to gain valuable work experience and learn how to interact with clients in a professional, supervised environment while applying concepts they have learned through Ivy courses.
Chris Moon, director of the VITA program and lecturer of accounting, spoke of who the program’s clients included and how beneficial this program is. “Our clients included students and employees of Iowa State and members of the Ames community. This service is provided to taxpayers free of charge and helps eliminate the cost of filing a tax return,” she said. “There are many benefits for the students, including seeing their confidence level increase and improved decision-making capacity by the end of tax season. In addition, their ability to interact and communicate with the clients improves dramatically, which gives them a great foundation for their future endeavors.”
“VITA is a game-changer for every accounting student; I never imagined how much I would learn in this class. Knowing the concepts for an exam is not the same as actually working on a tax return and passing through the entire process. I recommend this class to every accounting student. After taking this class, I feel more than confident with taxes.” – said Adriana Santiago Saez, a graduate student studying accounting.