For the first time ever, Troy accounting students are partnering with Impact America’s SaveFirst initiative to help low-income citizens file their taxes free of charge.
This is part of an IRS program called VITA, which stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, which offers free preparation services across the country, according to Elizabeth Shackney, the site coordinator for the event. Services are available to working families making up to $54,000 a year if there are children and up to $20,000 a year without children in the home.
Many families or individuals who come in are eligible for earned income tax credit, Shackney said.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states: “The Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC or EIC, is a benefit for working people with low to moderate income. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may give you a refund.”
The weekend service project started on Jan. 19 and so far has had few visitors, according to Shackney.
VITA will continue providing services at the Idea Bank downtown until March 3, running from noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Several Trojans volunteered as part of the Income Tax Accounting I and II classes.
“We had to do a training lab,” said Julia Grimsley, a junior accounting major from Colquitt, Georgia. “Never really had any background with tax or anything — I’ve just now taken Tax I — so I feel like it’s really prepared me for the class to get down to a basic understanding of it.”
International students, who are considered independent, no longer qualify for the service.
According to Grimsley, the intricacies of filing taxes make accounting both daunting and interesting.
“You’re working as a team, and you’re working with clients … it’s very challenging, but I like that,” Grimsley said. “I feel like you’re always learning something new and it’s never boring.”
Paige Farris, a junior accounting major from Kinston and another VITA volunteer, said she chose accounting because of the job outlook.
“Accountants are always going to be needed,” she said. “It’s a valuable career that has purpose because you’re always figuring things out to help people like working with a public; I really enjoy that.”
According to Farris, during Accountancy Day organized by the Sorrell College of Business every semester, she learned that accounting is not just a desk job.
“They have the firms come in on the Accountancy Day so it’s not nerve-racking having to go out on your own and find a firm because they bring them all to you,” Farris said.