As the tax filing deadline looms and our anxiety about the who, what, where, why, and how much of tax returns kicks in, Pace students in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program have three kind words, “let us help.”
Organized by Lubin’s Iota Lambda chapter of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), Pace students have been preparing federal, state, and local tax returns free of charge for low- and moderate-income individuals, families, and senior citizens in the local community for more than 15 years through the IRS’ VITA Program.
“It’s beneficial for the Pace Community and Lower Manhattan because some people can’t afford to pay a lot of money to get their taxes done,” says accounting BBA/MBA student Boski Patel ’14, who is the current director of the VITA Program and runs the lab. All student volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS, and once your taxes are done both another person and the IRS give a final review before filing.“ They would get the same experience as an H&R Block but for free,” says Patel. The program is open to anyone whose income does not exceed $50,000, no matter what state you file in, and has even done tax returns for people from Hawaii.
Wondering why you won’t be getting a fat refund check in the mail? In addition to filing your tax returns, the students can also offer some fundamental advice about why you owe what you owe and what you can do in the future.
At their peak, VITA filed 700 tax returns in just one season. “Last year we filed just under 300 returns. This year, we’re hoping to get 500 tax returns. We’ve already done 200 and it’s only been a month,” says Patel, who has had some help with free advertising from the Daily News and promotion on the IRS’ website.
In addition to helping the community, VITA also helps Pace students prepare for the real world. “Because I’m running VITA, it feels like running a company. I get such a great entrepreneurial experience that so many people wouldn’t get. It gives me practice and skills that I can easily implement in the work force when I graduate.”
And she invites other Pace students to join her. “People who are not interested in tax can come and learn more about it. Even if you’re not an accounting major, you’re going to have to do taxes one day…or get your taxes done. So having the know-knowledge of what to do and how to do it can be beneficial to everyone.”
The VITA Lab is open on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through April 16 and is located in Room W403 at One Pace Plaza. If you have any questions, e-mail email@example.com or call (212) 618-6598. For more information about VITA and what you need to bring with you, visit the VITA website.