MCCC Accounting Students Prepare Tax Returns Through VITA Program

ACCOUNTING GROUP: Montgomery County Community College students volunteer their time to prepare taxes at the Montgomery County Community Action Development Commission (CADCOM) VITA site in Norristown. Pictured (from left) are students Chenyang “Julia” Zhang, Yi “Joy” Zhao, Accounting Instructor Rita Meyhew, students Jinman “Jean” Li, Jingxu Zhu and Amanda Zhou. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Norristown, PA — A group of Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) accounting students are gaining real-world experience preparing federal and state income tax returns for lower income households.

Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, eight MCCC students, along with Rita Mayhew, an Accounting instructor and the faculty advisor to the student Accounting Club, have been volunteering their time at the Montgomery County Community Action Development Commission (CADCOM) office in Norristown. Since February, five students join Mayhew every Saturday for three hours. Their services will continue through April 15.

“I’m extremely proud of the effort that they’ve put into this,” Mayhew said. “They learned the software. They’re talking to the clients. They have gained a lot of confidence.”

MCCC’s accounting faculty added a curriculum requirement that five percent of a student’s grade is based on successful VITA certification. Faculty do not mandate that students volunteer. However, doing so provides students with real-world learning to reinforce and build upon what’s taught in the classroom.

“Besides learning, they’ve had tax courses, but until you actually do the work and put it into practice, maybe it doesn’t all gel,” Mayhew said. “This group in particular, they’re just very focused on learning.”

For some MCCC student volunteers, including Jinman “Jean” Li, English is their second language. For Li, a Business Administration student who plans to major in Accounting, the tax return process was unfamiliar. In her native China, tax returns are not filed.

Li said she is excited about the opportunity to gain more accounting knowledge.

“I can help people and I also can get some experience,” she said. “I just feel so happy.”

Ken Haubert, CADCOM’s director of asset development, echoed those sentiments.

“They are the best there is,” Haubert said of MCCC student volunteers and their dedication. “This is our best year by far, in our partnership with the community college, thanks to Rita.”

In all, Mayhew estimates that students will have completed 200 tax returns – or possibly more – through tax season.

Last year, 1,565 total tax returns were filed through CADCOM’s VITA program, according to Haubert. This year, with more volunteers, particularly from MCCC, Haubert anticipates even more returns being completed.

In order to qualify for VITA tax preparation services, households cannot make more than $54,000. Last year’s average income for those served at CADCOM VITA sites was $19,600, according to Haubert. The free service saved clients $352,000 in tax preparation fees last year.  This, when added to refunds of $2,626,325, generated a total community economic impact of $4,175,855 at CADCOM VITA sites alone, he said. 

Haubert said student volunteers not only benefit his program, but the community and the students as well.

“They are dealing with personalities of clients,” Haubert said. “You have to use your tact and your interpersonal skills to make them feel comfortable.

In the end, he said, students gain “real life experiences.”

VITA services are available at multiple locations throughout Montgomery County. To find the location closest to you, dial 2-1-1 from your telephone and follow the prompts. To schedule an appointment at CADCOM’s Norristown location, clients may also call 610-277-6363 ext. 115.

FREE BASIC INCOME TAX PREPARATION FOR LOW-INCOME INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES

POTTSTOWN, PAFamily Services, the Montgomery County Asset Building Coalition and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are offering free basic income tax preparation for low-to-moderate income individuals and families (who earned less than $54,000 in 2015) through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The IRS trains and certifies all VITA volunteers to prepare and electronically file income tax forms. VITA volunteers are trained to assist clients in claiming special credits and refunds, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The mission of the program is to help working families improve their finances and increase their self-sufficiency.

“We can help put money back in your pocket,” said Lupe Hernandez, Family Services’ VITA site coordinator. “By filing your taxes through a VITA site, not only will you save money in filing fees, but you’ll also receive your tax refund as soon as possible.”

Family Services is offering VITA appointments at two locations in Montgomery County:

  • Family Services’ Pottstown Office, 1976 East High Street, Pottstown. Appointment times: Mondays and Tuesdays, 5-8 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Family Services’ Eagleville Office, 3125 Ridge Pike, Eagleville. Appointment times:  Thursdays, 5-8 p.m.

Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment at the sites listed above, please call Family Services at 610-326-1610.

Individuals should bring the following documents to their VITA appointment:

  • Photo identification (driver’s license or state-issued identification card) for self and spouse
  • Social security cards for self, spouse and dependents
  • Birth dates for self, spouse and dependents
  • Wage and earning statement(s) (Form W-2, 1099, unemployment statements) from all employers for self and spouse
  • Health insurance statement (Forms 1095-A, 1095-B or 1095-C)
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks for self and spouse
  • Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit
  • Other relevant information about income and expenses
  • Total paid for daycare, daycare provider’s address and tax identification number
  • Form 8332 or a copy of a divorce decree if you are a non-custodial parent claiming a child
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state tax returns (if available)
  • If filing jointly, both the filer and spouse must be present to sign the tax return.

For a complete list of VITA tax preparation sites in Montgomery County, please visitwww.mcassetbuilding.org.

Would you prefer to file your taxes in the comfort of your own home? Now you can—for free and without an appointment! Individuals or families with a combined income under $62,000 may prepare and file their own federal and state taxes online at www.myfreetaxes.com/fsmontco.org. This website is powered by H&R Block and sponsored by Walmart and the United Way.

Since 1900, Family Services has been caring for children, seniors and families in Montgomery County who face everyday emotional difficulties or physical hardships. The agency’s innovative social service programs make a positive difference in the lives of 13,000 county residents each year. For more information, contact Family Services’ Pottstown Office at 610-326-1610 or visit http://www.fsmontco.org.

Family Services Offers Free Income Tax Preparation To Low-Income Individuals And Families

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Family Services, the Montgomery County Asset Building Coalition and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are offering free income tax preparation to low-to-moderate income individuals and families (who earn less than $52,000) through theVolunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The IRS trains and certifies all VITA volunteers to prepare and electronically file incometax forms. VITA volunteers are trained to assist clients in claiming special credits and refunds, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The mission of the program is to help working families improve their finances and increase their self-sufficiency.

“We can help put money back in your pocket,” said Kathy Cael, VITA site coordinator. “By filing your taxes through a VITA site, not only will you save money in filing fees, but you’ll also receive your tax refund quickly. In most cases, tax refunds are deposited directly into your bank account within 7-to-10 days.”

Read more: http://fsmontco.org/news/family-services-offers-free-income-tax-preparation-low-income-individuals-and-families-0

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