At Cabrini, the goal of every department is to establish experiences to prepare students for their future. Accounting students are getting that chance during tax season.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program allows students to volunteer around the Cabrini community to assist low and moderate income citizens in filing their taxes for free. In doing this, accounting students become certified with the program.
“VITA volunteers are required to become certified,” Andrea Marrical, e-file coordinator of the VITA Program at Cabrini, said. “The students in the income tax class that is taught by Ann Servey are required to complete 15 tax returns through the VITA program as part of the course.”
Servey is the site coordinator for the VITA Program at Cabrini. Servey said that Cabrini has been involved in this volunteer effort for over 25 years. This year, the VITA Program is especially reaching out to specific people.
“We are making a real concentrated effort to reach out to the Spanish-speaking population,” Servey said. “We have a volunteer tax preparer that is bilingual, so we will be able to serve that community.”
Servey said there is a “mutual benefit” in participation. While the community gets the benefit of having a service utilized for free, accounting students get valuable lessons for their future.
“The program allows the students to learn tax law and regulation hands-on, rather than just reading it out of a textbook,” Marrical said. “In my opinion, working with the program as a directed study, as well as when I was enrolled in the income tax course, has provided a better foundation for tax accounting than any class or textbook could have.”
“There are no disadvantages,” Servey said. “The accounting majors get exposure and experience in preparing taxes, and the community gets a valuable service which includes electronic filing.”
That’s where Marrical comes into the picture. As e-file coordinator, she handles all of the online materials that are involved with the program.
“I keep track of all returns that students in the class are working on as well as providing quality review for completed returns,” Marrical said. “Once a return is finished, it is my job to obtain all of the taxpayer information and thoroughly review the return. Once I have completed the quality review, I am responsible for sending out both the Federal and state returns through e-filing.”
Accounting students have continued to benefit from this program, and Marrical said that the response continues to become greater each year.
“This year there is absolutely much more of a response,” Marrical said. “We got flyers around campus a lot earlier, and many students were sending us e-mails in January/early February to have their taxes completed. Most of them didn’t know that the service was offered on our campus, so it’s great that more and more students are utilizing the VITA program.”
“This year we made an extra effort in publicizing the program,” Servey said. “We’re getting a good turnout. We’ve got quite a number of tax returns prepared at this point.”
Once accounting students graduate, they don’t forget the valuable experience they got through the VITA Program.
“The former students actually come back and have their taxes done,” Servey said. “It’s a mutual benefit between the current accounting majors and the public.”