NDSU accounting students are standing by to help you with your tax forms.
About 34 students will take part in NDSU’s annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, known as VITA. The students are scheduled to assist clients Tuesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the computer cluster (room 14A, B and C) located in the lower level of the NDSU Main Library. The project is set to begin on Feb. 25 and continue until April 7.
The service is free and walk-in clients are welcome; no appointments are taken. According to the Internal Revenue Service, VITA services are most frequently used by people whose annual income is $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their returns.
The NDSU VITA program has been offered for about 25 years.
“The students gain real-world experience by working with actual clients,” said James Clifton, assistant professor of accounting practice, who supervises the NDSU program. “Many students tell me that company recruiters are very interested in employing students who have participated in the VITA program. For many of these students, this is really the start of their accounting careers.”
The student volunteers, ranging from freshmen to graduate students, received three sessions of training to meet IRS standards before the project begins. During the Tuesday sessions, two students will work with each client, and Clifton will be on hand to provide guidance, as needed.
Some students, like sophomore Eric Buckley, are participating for the first time.
“I joined VITA this year because I know it will be a great experience for me,” said Buckley, who is from Thief River Falls, Minnesota. “Working with clients’ tax returns will allow my professional and people skills to grow. The thing I’m looking forward to the most is getting to work with people and being able to help them out.”
Jennifer Sprengeler, a junior from Delano, Minnesota, is taking part in VITA for her second year, and she’s looking forward to seeing her repeat clients.
“VITA’s a great real-world experience that I’ll use a lot as an accountant someday,” she said. “It’s really cool that we get to apply what we’ve learned to help so many people get their taxes done – it can be really stressful for those who don’t know what they are doing. VITA is also a valuable skill and experience to put my resume, and I feel it has led me to a lot of great opportunities.“
In addition to tax and income documents, clients must bring a photo ID and their Social Security card.
Last year, NDSU student volunteers assisted about 100 clients. The goal for this year is 140.
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