North Central accounting students begin new partnership with Center for Economic Progress

Mar 08, 2016

For the seventh consecutive year, North Central College accounting and business students are volunteering to help low-income community members file tax returns. This year, they entered into a new partnership with the Center for Economic Progress in Aurora. This new site can host more volunteers and yield more returns—approximately 1,000 returns.

This partnership supports the Volunteer Income Assistance Program (VITA) through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To participate in the program, students must receive VITA certification that involves 11.5 hours of online training in addition to onsite training at the center. Students are required to volunteer a minimum of 25 hours at the center on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons, Jan. 23-April 13.

Eleven North Central students opted for the VITA certification this year: Connor Adams ’16, Nolan Brannick ’17, Mikaela Cleland ’17, Andrew Epperson ’16, John A. Hayes ’17, Michael Koehne ’16, Fabian Orozco ’17, Bryan Polowy ’16, Widly Soiresie ’17, Pietro Suero ’17 and Waverly Walker ’17.

Not only do low- to moderate-income families (generally, $49,000 and below), individuals ($25,000 and below) and seniors benefit from the student’s contribution, but the students themselves also gain valuable life and career experience. As aspiring accountants or business persons, students can add the IRS recognition to their résumés.

“The students always have a positive experience with this program,” says Alli Purcell Hayes, associate professor of accounting. “It’s a great way for them to test their technological skills, interact with new community members and learn about themselves as professionals.”

Nolan Brannick ’17, an accounting major, has volunteered at the site for five weeks and has already filed 20 tax returns. “It has been a very rewarding experience,” he says. “I have gained a great deal of experience in communicating with clients and working for a supervisor.”

Waverly Walker ’17, a double major in finance and economics, also praises the benefits of the program. “By working for a nonprofit organization, you gain a sense of humility and truly care about the work you’re doing,” she says. “We are doing so much more than simply preparing tax returns. We are helping clients see how financial understanding can make a positive impact in their lives.”

By Lauren Baltas ’16