A record 33 North Central College accounting majors are participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, providing free federal and state income tax assistance for people who need help preparing their 2013 tax returns.
As IRS-certified volunteers, North Central students provide basic income tax return preparation and electronic filing for qualified individuals earning less than $52,000.
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Students began offering their services Feb. 1 and will continue through March 15 at Loaves and Fishes Community Pantry, 1871 High Grove Lane, Naperville. The students are on duty from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
Last year, the volunteer tax team at Loaves & Fishes completed 362 returns for the community, resulting in $576,000 in federal refunds and $54,000 in state refunds.
This practical, hands-on experience working with local residents on their tax returns has become an annual exercise for aspiring accountants at North Central. Allison Hayes, assistant professor of accounting, oversees the college's program.
Some of the student volunteers are part of the Taxes I ACC 430 course, taught by Hayes, and are required to become VITA-certified. The students who choose to volunteer with the VITA program are awarded service learning credit in the course and may substitute a reflective journal submission of their VITA experience for their lowest test score. Those not connected with the course volunteer on their own.
The IRS supplies the training materials, but Hayes provides all the practical training in correlation with the ACC 430 course, or one-on-one training for other volunteers going through certification.
The pantry will continue to offer VITA services through April 15 and by appointment throughout the year. For more information about the tax services, contact www.loaves-fishes.org or (630) 355-3663.