Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program at SCSU
Jessica Pellegrino – General Assignment Reporter
Last year, Southern Connecticut State University opted into an IRS sponsored program called the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). The program is a free tax return preparation service provided to taxpayers that have less than $55,000 a year in income.
Dr. Frank Bevvino, accounting professor on campus, said the program is an important addition for students.
He said, “SCSU began last year with a new program open to students and university personnel. It is staffed by volunteers, mainly students here at SCSU, who are required to pass three online tests dealing with procedure, ethics and basic tax law.”
Bevvino said that all students should gain knowledge regarding tax returns.
“The program is beneficial to the students in two ways; It benefits students in the School of Business, especially the Accounting Program, providing the student with not only “hands on” experience in preparing actual tax returns for individuals, but more importantly the experience of interaction with taxpayers directly,” said Bevvino.
He added, “In the classroom when taking a tax course, the tax returns they prepare are facts provided to them and there is not interaction with a person. Additionally, the VITA Program allows the student the opportunity to prepare tax returns on tax software provided by the Internal Revenue Service.”
All of the volunteers that wish to participate in the program are required to take and pass three different exams through the IRS.
“The exams are given online at the IRS website and includes areas of ethics in handling personal tax information, procedures in conducting an interview with taxpayers, and an understanding of basic individual income tax law,” said Bevvino.
According to Bevvino, these are incredibly important skills for all adults to have in life, as tax returns are pertinent information.
Since the program is open to anyone who makes less than $55,000 per year, students have the benefit of getting their taxes done for free.
“The program is offered at many universities throughout the country including schools here in Connecticut including Yale and Quinnipiac,” said Bevvino. “Additionally, many community agencies in the New Haven area and throughout the state sponsor VITA Programs. All programs are staffed by volunteers, many of whom are retired individuals and have passed the exams. Our program here at SCSU is coordinated through the Community Action Agency of New Haven on Whalley Avenue, New Haven. Angela Scipio is the coordinator.”
For students interested in the program, there are meetings being held in the Trading Room located in the School of Business. The first session is Feb. 19 from 1 to 4 p.m.
For more information about the program or how to get involved, contact Dr. Frank Bevvino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The program will continue each tax season in the future,” said Bevvino, “as long as students volunteer for the program.”
Photo Credit: Staff Photo