The University of Rio Grande’s Emerson E. Evans School of Business is offering Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) through the accounting program. The VITA program offers free tax preparation help to low-income taxpayers. Students studying accounting at Rio have volunteered to assist the community by becoming IRS-certified to offer tax counseling. Accounting instructor Mary Leffler said this is a unique opportunity for the students to turn what they learn in the classroom into real world experience while providing tax preparation services to the community.
“This is a community service, and a big part of education here at Rio emphasizes service to our community. We are offering free tax assistance with our students who are officially tested and certified through the IRS VITA basic tax training program,” Leffler said. “It feels good to work for the community, so our students are very excited for this program. We treat this as though they are working for a professional accounting firm, giving them real world experience in accounting and customer service skills. This is also a great opportunity for the community to see what we do here in the School of Business and watch our students put what they learn in the classroom into practice.”
To qualify for VITA, the taxpayer must have an income of $54,000 or less. The site will only be handling basic tax returns, which includes retirement or student incomes. As a requirement set by the IRS for VITA locations, clients must bring a photo ID for the tax payer and their spouse, who must also be present, as well as a Social Security Card for everyone whose name is included on the tax return to the appointment. Leffler said she is excited the university has provided this opportunity for students to assist residents with both federal and Ohio income taxes.
“We are here to fulfill a need in both the local and Rio communities. Anyone who meets VITA’s criteria will be able to come to campus to get their federal taxes done for free as well as taxes for Ohio and its contiguous states,” Leffler said. “I encourage anyone who qualifies to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The VITA service is by appointment only and will run in Bob Evans Farms Hall every Monday and Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m beginning Monday, February 12 through Wednesday, March 28. The VITA site will be closed Monday, February 19 for Presidents’ Day and the week of March 5 for Rio’s Spring Break. For more information or make an appointment, contact Linda Thevenir at 740-245-7373 or Mary Leffler at 740-245-7482.