Students in East Central University’s School of Business are participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program again this year to provide free assistance to individuals with basic tax returns, particularly those with low and fixed incomes.
The national program is supported by the Internal Revenue Service.
The VITA site will open Feb. 6 at a new location, 1001 N. Country Club Road, where the former Carl Albert Indian Health Facility was located. April 12 will be the last day the assistance will be available.
In February, ECU students and other volunteers will be available from 2 to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, except for Feb. 20, President’s Day. In March, the site will be open from 2 to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. The volunteers will be available from 2 to 5 p.m. on five days in April. During the first week of April, they will provide assistance on Monday and Tuesday. During the second week, they will be open on Monday, Tuesday and the last day, Thursday, April 12.
The tax returns completed by ECU students and other volunteers will be filed electronically.
Edward Hobbs, ECU’s Horne & Company professor of accounting and a certified public accountant, said the program is a “win-win situation.”
“It is a benefit to the community, ECU and the students” he said. “The people in the community get a useful service and, most important to me, the students get invaluable real-world, hands-on experience dealing with clients.”
The student volunteers are advanced accounting majors who have taken the university’s individual income tax course.
“They have attended classes, using materials provided by the IRS, to assist them in identifying and understanding issues they will likely encounter at the VITA center,” Hobbs said.
The students have been trained on the tax software they will be using, and they also have passed three IRS VISTA certification exams.
“It is apparent to me that these students are highly motivated to both excel in their future profession and to provide assistance, where needed, to their local communities,” Hobbs said.