SMWC participates in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program to help low- to moderate-income (generally, $54,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Through VITA, which is a national program, certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. SMWC is the only VITA site in Vigo County.

“Participating in the volunteer tax site gives students experience that they could not get in a classroom. Being a tax preparer is so much more than doing taxes. It’s about respect, compassion, and confidentiality just to name a few things,” said Jamie McCracken, SMWC assistant professor of business and co-coordinator of SMWC’s VITA services. “Students go on to see this as the best experience of their college years because of the overall hands-on experience.”

With 20 years of experience as a tax preparer, McCracken teaches tax law at the baccalaureate college level. She regularly takes the VITA certification exams. Each spring since 2007, she has completed the Link and Learn training and VITA certification exams at the advanced levels, as well as the coordinator training.

Under her leadership, SMWC has increased returns filed by nearly 60 percent each year and increased the net dollars of federal refunds processed from $180,000 to over $500,000.