TROY accounting students provide free tax assistance to locals in need

April 11, 2017

Accounting students at Troy University spent the first half of their semester processing tax returns for low-income individuals and the elderly under the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

Dena Mitchell, an assistant professor in the School of Accountancy and a site coordinator for the VITA program, said TROY students in ACT 4494 and 4495 participate in the program each spring and have been for five years now.

“There are also students who are in the graduate program or who have completed these courses who come back each year to volunteer,” she said. “There is a similar program available on the Dothan and Montgomery campuses. Those programs have students who volunteer, although the sites are not exclusively student volunteers like the site here in Troy.”

VITA is a national program that provides free tax aid to those with an income of less than $60,000, over the age of 62 or those with limited English skills. All volunteers must complete the IRS training and be re-certified each year, and each return is reviewed before it can be filed.

“Every VITA site has at least one site coordinator,” Mitchell said. “Our site had two. One of the site coordinators was a volunteer from Fort Rucker, and I was the other one.”

The site began accepting returns on Jan. 23 and stopped on March 25. Students volunteered during their free time when the office was open throughout the weeks.

Mitchell also said that gaining this experience gives students an advantage when it came time to search for internships and jobs.

“We have all spoken with potential employers for our students who are delighted with their experience,” she said. “Students who have returned from internships with these accounting firms have talked about how participation in VITA helped them and put them a little bit ahead of students from other campuses who didn’t have the same experience.”