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Individuals with low and fixed incomes have the opportunity for free tax return assistance as East Central University and the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business will once again participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

VITA is a national program, supported by the Internal Revenue Service. The returns in the VITA center will be e-filed. ECU students, along with other volunteers, will provide the service.

“I see the program as a win-win situation,” said Ed Hobbs, Horne and Company Professor of Accounting, in ECU’s Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business. “It is a benefit to the community, ECU and the students. The people in the community get a useful service, ECU gets some community recognition and, most important to me, the students get invaluable real-world, hands-on experience dealing with clients."

According to Hobbs, the student volunteers are, in general, advanced accounting majors who have taken ECU’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.

“They have received training on the tax software they will be using,” Hobbs said. “They have also taken and passed three IRS VITA certification exams. It is apparent to me that these students are highly motivated to both excel in their profession and to provide assistance, where needed, to their local communities.”

The VITA site, located at 221 N. Rennie in Ada (Southwest corner of Rennie and 9th Streets), opened Monday, Feb. 2. The operation schedule for February through March 14 is Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.  During this time the site will be closed Monday, February 16; Thursday, Feb. 26 and Thursday, March 5.

Starting with March 23, the site will be open Monday and Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. through April 14.

For more information about VITA, contact Hobbs at 580-559-5267 or .

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