The Woods Offers Free Income Tax Assistance

January 18th, 2013-By Jessica Claycomb, SMWC

Puzzled by the tax law or which credits to take?  Need assistance with your tax return?  Let Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) help you put together the pieces of your 2012 income taxes.

SMWC offers the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program to help those with an income of $51,000 and below who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Through VITA, which is a national program through the Internal Revenue Service, certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. The SMWC VITA site will offer free electronic filing.

Trained and certified as VITA Tax preparers, ten SMWC students will assist U.S. citizens and residents with their federal and Indiana income tax preparations.

"The VITA Program provides our students with practical tax experience outside the classroom," said Jamie McCracken, SMWC assistant business professor and co-cordinator of SMWC's VITA services.  "VITA is a wonderful way for students to use their training to help the community."

Jennie Mitchell, professor of business and co-cordinator of SMWC's VITA services said, "The students are excited and motivated to make our opening day a success.  Reading about a subject is one thing, but actually practicing what you are reading is a whole new level of learning."

More workers could be eligible for a special tax credit this year and not know it.  As a result, they may overlook claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit which can put anywhere from $2 to more than $5,600 into their pockets.  McCracken encourages taxpayers to get help determining their Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility through this tax assistance program.

 

Those who wish to have tax returns prepared at a VITA site must bring:

To make an appointment:

Those wishing to take part in the VITA service should call (812)-535-5223 to make an appointment.  The consultations be held in Hulman Hall, Room 001.  There is also a dropoff service open Mondays and Wednesday through Friday 9-11:30 am and 1-4 pm, located in Hullman Hall, Room 002.

Previous VITA Community Service

In the spring of 2011, eight woods students in the Tax and Tax Laws class did a service learning project, and it turned out to be a great success.  The full name of the program is Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), whose intention is to help those with an income of $ 49,000 and below who cannot prepare their own tax returns.  Through VITA, which is a national program through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country.  The SMWC VITA site will offer free electronic filing.

Here is a list of the eight outstanding students:

Tracey Weir
Mary Noonan
Alicia Holloway
Shuya Guo
Jennifer Hughes
Jennifer McLeish
Erin Pugh
Jordan Bedella

Every volunteer is required to complete a 10-hour certification, but all the eight woods students completed an additional 8-hour certification.  The eight participants prepared about 225 tax returns, which amounted to over $ 28,000 worth of service.  Additionally, if one factors in refunds generated and amounts owed to the IRS, the site generated nearly a quarter of a million dollars in refunds.

“I feel that service learning projects are crucial to a student's education.  What needs to be stressed is that doing good deeds isn't about getting recognition, it's about helping people in need,” said Jamie McCracken, SMWC assistant professor of business and co-coordinator of SMWC’s VITA services.  “I had an exceptional class this semester who knew that from the start!  I have been told that this is one of the largest service learning projects on the SMWC campus.  This is a unique opportunity for students and a great addition to their resume.”

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