By Ronald Hanaki
SC Staff Writer
East Stroudsburg University business management majors are helping the general public file their tax returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at ESU’s Innovation Center.
This is a free tax preparation service that is open to people in need of tax preparation assistance that make $52,000 or less. Others who may qualify include people with disabilities, senior citizens, and those whose first language is not English.
VITA is being offered at ESU’s Innovation Center on Tuesday evenings from 6 PM to 8 PM and Saturdays from 10 AM to noon. This free service is available by appointment only and runs through Saturday, April 12.
This is the sixth year ESU is offering the free tax preparation service. The students are led by recent ESyou honoree Dr. Sheila Handy, who is the chair of ESU’s business management department. In total, there are seven ESU students who have taken the time to volunteer to help people prepare and file their tax returns.
Dr. Handy said, “I saw, when I was in a college, what a great and needed community service this is. It’s very gratifying to see a young family getting a refund because of earned income credit.”
All student volunteers have to undergo tax accounting training that is available on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website under “Link & Learn Taxes” and must pass the VITA Volunteer Assistor’s Test before they are qualified to participate in the program and help the general public prepare and file their tax returns.
Each year, all student volunteers including Dr. Handy herself must take and pass the qualifying exam because tax law changes every year, and VITA volunteer assistors have to be knowledgeable about the latest developments and changes in tax law.
Dr. Handy said, “VITA is going well this year.”
Those people who need help in preparing their tax returns and are eligible for this free tax service should contact Dr. Handy at (570) 422-3181 to set up an appointment.
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