For several years, North Central students have participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, providing free federal and state income tax assistance for the elderly, non-English speaking individuals, and low income families and individuals earning less than $49,000. New this year, students are working in a new location, at Loaves & Fishes in Naperville, with opportunities to serve more people.
Again this year, a record number of accounting majors—more than 30—are in training and working to pass a rigorous Internal Revenue Service (IRS) exam and become VITA-certified. The IRS supports the VITA program so low-income taxpayers receive all the benefits available to them through the Tax Code. Allison Hayes, North Central College assistant professor of accounting, is overseeing the College’s program.
“We had an opportunity to work with Loaves & Fishes and it’s turned out to be a great experience for us,” says Hayes. “Our students get to work hand in hand with members of the community and network with professionals connected to the program. And because Loaves & Fishes offers these services three days a week, students have more opportunities and flexibility to serve and work on tax returns.”
Students began offering their services Feb. 3 and will continue through winter term, March 10, at Loaves and Fishes community pantry, 1871 High Grove Lane in Naperville, on Thursdays from 3:30 to 7 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon.
Some of the student volunteers are part of the 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 provides 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 14 and by appointment throughout the year. For more information about the tax services, visit loaves-fishes.org/VITA.html or call Loaves & Fishes at 630-355-3663.
North Central College offers an undergraduate degree in accounting with concentrations in the certified public accountant (CPA), certified management accountant (CMA) or corporate tracks, as well as a five-year integrated accounting CPA/M.B.A. track.