The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South, SE offer free tax preparation

Ileana Morse submits students’ tax information. Volunteers on South and SE campuses are providing free tax help for qualified taxpayers until April 15.
David Reid/The Collegian
Ileana Morse submits students’ tax information. Volunteers on South and SE campuses are providing free tax help for qualified taxpayers until April 15. David Reid/The Collegian

By Karen Gavis/se news editor

Volunteers have begun preparing free tax returns on South and SE campuses.

TCC has partnered with the United Way of Tarrant County, the IRS and Catholic Charities of Fort Worth to provide the service through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Generally, households with less than $50,000 in adjusted gross income are eligible for the free tax preparation, and refunds are filed electronically.

“It is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for students,” said SE accounting assistant professor Karen Haun, who helps students gain certification through the IRS. “Not only are we helping others, but we are helping ourselves.”

SE student volunteer Anthony Abbott plans to become a certified public accountant. He said the VITA program has a “mutually reciprocal” reward.

“It gives the student additional study in tax accounting and an opportunity to use their skills in a real-world situation,” he said. “I am really looking forward to getting to volunteer over there and help people out.”

Abbott said many people buy computer software to do their taxes.

“The software has the potential of missing something that a person who has taken the class might see,” he said. “The software asks general questions. The person asks specific [ones].”

Ileana Morse submits students’ tax information. Volunteers on South and SE campuses are providing free tax help for qualified taxpayers until April 15.
David Reid/The Collegian

Robert Staley, who plans to become a forensic accountant, was a volunteer in the VITA program last year. Although daunting, Staley said certification is not that difficult. Plus, he enjoyed being a volunteer.

“It felt great to know that in one fell swoop, I was able to support my community by helping low-income families, gain valuable experience in the tax field, network with like-minded individuals and bolster my résumé,” he said.

Tax preparation may seem boring to some, but it is highly relevant to one’s personal life and can be very satisfying, Staley said.

“There is such a great feeling when you see the excitement over the return you were able to qualify the person for,” he said. “And when you see how it correlates to your own taxes and those of your parents, it will be completely worthwhile.”

Last year, SE functioned as a mobile site where volunteers could assist in tax preparation one or two days a week, said SE VITA site manager Alan Martin. This year, it functions as a permanent site.

Language translation is available if the specific language is requested when one calls to make an appointment,  Martin said. Appointments can be made by dialing 2-1-1. Volunteers can also assist with the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“That is money that is not being claimed that belongs to the taxpayers,” he said.

Martin has distributed fliers in the community and wants TCC students, faculty and staff to participate as well.

“We are hoping this year to have 300 people to take advantage of our services,” he said.

Haun said 20 SE students have completed their training and are certified for the VITA program while several more are in the process. Last year, SE was the only VITA site in the DFW region that was 100 percent error-free, she said.

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