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Students volunteer to help citizens file taxes
Guided by Assistant Professor of Accounting Nelson Alino, 65 IRS-certified accounting majors are assisting individuals who make $51,000 or less annually with their federal and state taxes. This free service will be offered each Saturday from Feb. 2 until April 13 at Quinnipiac Online on Whitney Avenue and in other locations in surrounding towns.
This opportunity is part of the university’s partnership with a national program called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, which helps low-income taxpayers file their taxes, Alino said.
“All we do is provide help, income tax preparation help, free assistance to those people whose income falls below a certain threshold,” Alino said.
This saves taxpayers money because they do not have to pay someone to help them with their taxes, he said.
“Sometimes people refuse to file because they can’t afford to pay the money to file their taxes,” Alino said. “They are afraid of the [tax] code because they don’t want to make mistakes, so they need help. That is where we come in.”
According to Alino, the students will help taxpayers throughout the entire process.
“Once we finish with [the taxpayers], they sign the tax return. It is filed electronic[ly] and that means they are done for the year,” he said.
Alino expects 10 to 25 people to come to the program each Saturday.
This is the third year that Alino has run the program, but his second year separate from the Law School. Quinnipiac’s School of Law holds a similar event at the Hamden Public Library, he said.
Most of the volunteers are upperclassmen and members of the accounting honor society: Beta Alpha Psi, Alino said. Beta Alpha Psi executive board members Giosue Improta and Kevin Stoddard are the site coordinators for the event.
“The organization is a step above the normal accounting student, so the best students in our accounting class are in Beta Alpha Psi and are helping with this program,” Improta said.
According to Improta, participating in this event fulfills Beta Alpha Psi’s volunteer requirement.
The students have passed multiple exams to be IRS-certified to file a tax return, Alino said. The students have also taken Alino’s Federal Income Tax Procedure class and attended a training session.
Alino believes it is important for students to volunteer in the program.
“For us at Quinnipiac University, and for the School of Business especially, the benefits are threefold,” he said. “One is to provide community service, which is a good thing. Two, [the students] are enhancing their knowledge of tax laws…and [three], learning customer service.”
Similarly, Improta feels that he now has the opportunity to put into practice what he learned in class.
“If you are learning about taxes and you are going through a lot of theoretical problems, but you can’t apply it to a real situation, then it really kind of renders it meaningless,” Improta said. “Also, the benefit is really incredible. If you can help people by using your skills and talents specifically, then you should by all means go about doing that.”