Dixie State University accounting students are administering free tax preparation services to fellow students and community members, and everyone is cashing in the benefits.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is a tax preparation program that offers free tax assistance to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance preparing their own tax returns, according to irs.gov. DSU students majoring in accounting have the opportunity to become IRS-certified to prepare taxes for the public.
Accounting students are providing free tax preparation in the Udvar-Hazy Building every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. until March 6.
Steven Day, an assistant professor of accounting, oversees the accounting students and ensures quality and accurate tax preparations.
“You’re dealing with certified accounting majors who have gone through a very rigorous program,” Day said. “The program is also overseen by accounting professors here at Dixie State. We watch them through the process every night, and we also review every return one at a time the following morning.”
Accounting students gain hands-on experience through the VITA program, and Shalee Farnsworth, a senior accounting major from Enterprise, views the service as helpful to the public and the accounting students.
“It’s a big responsibility,” Farnsworth said. “We were all pretty nervous on the first day, but it gives you a real-life situation of how things really happen and what you do with all the things: what write offs are, how to handle tuition statements, and how to handle different things. It’s not just a class you have to sit through; it actually prepares you for life.”
Farnsworth advised students to be cautious about preparing their own taxes.
“After being in this program, I’ve learned a lot about taxes and how everything works,” Farnsworth said. “I would definitely, if you’re going to do them on your own, make sure you ask someone to review it before you submit it. Because there are just tiny things that even our advisers help us with that could make your return so much bigger than you originally had. Double check it.”
Bree McCoy, a senior accounting major from Farmington, N.M., said students simply should not do their own taxes.
“Don’t do it,” McCoy said. “Don’t file your taxes for the first year. It’s a lot more difficult than what people think it is. So I would suggest coming to VITA and have us do it.”
Community member Gardner Black initially went somewhere else to get his taxes prepared, but he ended up going to the accounting majors in the Udvar-Hazy building to file.
“Before I came to VITA to do my taxes, I went to H&R Block,” Black said. “It was less personal. They were trying to just hurry me out and get to the next person. Here they actually take time to ask you questions.”
Black said tax preparation is more reliable at DSU.
“I feel more comfortable because it’s actually being done by accounting students and also being looked over by professors,” Black said.
Day encouraged DSU students to take advantage of the free tax preparation service and support fellow students simultaneously.
“We would love to have the students participate,” Day said. “We do it right, we do it for free, and you also get to help the accounting program grow and provide some training for those students on campus.”