PIQUA – This semester, students in Edison State Community College’s accounting program will prepare taxes as part of a service-learning project at the Partners In Hope site location for the community-at-large, in partnership with the Dayton Coalition Program (VITA/EITC).
VITA’s origins date back to 1969 with a precursor program at California State University, Northridge. Such programs have since spread to thousands of locations across the country, with IRS-certified volunteers providing free help with tax returns to low- and moderate-income taxpayers, as well as people with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speakers.
“Students are getting real-world training, the IRS provides plenty of support, and community members receive a valuable service free of charge,” said Sandra Streitenberger, associate professor of accounting and business.
Students must become IRS certified at both the basic and advanced tax preparers level in order to assist in the preparation of tax returns. They are required to volunteer for 20 on-site service-learning hours, preparing taxes over the tax season.
“VITA programs give students valuable experience that can help them in their future careers, as it allows them to work on real tax returns while also developing non-technical skills,” Streitenberger said. “The emphasis on soft skills can’t be underestimated. Students will learn how to deal with clients face-to-face, and they’re in a position to deliver good news but also bad news if the taxpayer owes money.”
There are 12 VITA locations across the Miami Valley region. This is the second year that Edison State has partnered with the Dayton Coalition and the IRS but the first year that Miami County will have a VITA location at Partners In Hope in Troy.
“Partners In Hope is always excited to work with students and their schools,” Carol Jackson, executive director of Partners In Hope, said. “This is such a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about their community and an area of the industry that will impact them in their careers. And we are especially thankful to the students who are willing to help us with this program.”
VITA locations are all working to ensure the safety of students and the community clients at large.