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Students Participate in National VITA Income Tax Program

MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2017 - 7:07 AM All News , Arts and Sciences , Engineering , Law , Business

“I want to help people in the community get the tax returns they deserve."

  • Students receive tax return training in the Frances and Norman Cohen Trading Room and Financial Center

Western New England University College of Business Assistant Professor of Accounting, Ausher Kofsky, recently organized a seven-hour workshop to train student volunteers to prepare tax returns for low and moderate-income families, and fellow students. Last year, student volunteers helped prepare more than 2,000 income tax returns, which in turn generated more than $3 million in state and federal tax refunds for local residents. The program is part of the national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). 

The volunteers consisted of students from the University’s various Colleges and School of Law. For the first time, international students from India, Saudi Arabia, France, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Vietnam participated in the training. A total of 32 students completed the training on January 21, held in the College of Business. 

Pragati Kumar Verma, an Engineering Graduate student from India said, “This is a perfect opportunity to help people in the community where I’m getting my education, and at the same time it will really help me improve my language and communication skills.” 

Afshan Rehman, a Biology major from Pakistan explained, “My dad is a CPA back in Pakistan and I have a basic understanding of tax documents. This workshop will train me to do the US tax returns for my fellow international students and others.”

Kemar Hart, a law student from Springfield remarked, “I want to help people in the community get the tax returns they deserve. This program also counts toward my pro-bono requirements as a law student. Tax returns frighten some people, but I’ve done my own tax returns and some of my family’s since I was 15 years old, so I volunteered to help.”

The U.S. Congress sponsors the VITA program with an annual budget allocation to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), who in turn oversees the program. For Western Massachusetts, VITA is run by the local not-for-profit organization Springfield Partners for Community Action. 

As certified IRS trainers, the graduates will now volunteer in Springfield and on the University campus, through the April 2017 tax season. Leading the training were Tax Director Attorney Martin O’Connor, and VITA Supervisor Bobbie-Jo Thibodeau.

For information on how to make an appointment to have your tax return prepared by a volunteer, call Springfield Partners for Community Action at 413-263-6500.

To view more photos of the students click here.