Program makes taxes an opportunity for community service, experiential learning
A longtime volunteer program staffed by Illinois College students will again offer free tax-return services to the community beginning Feb. 6.
Each year, IC accounting students train to provide free tax-return services to the community through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.
The free service is available to individuals and families with a household income of less than $60,000. Federal and state tax returns are prepared and filed electronically prior to the April 15 deadline. Confidentiality is assured.
Students will be available to complete tax returns by appointment Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-6 p.m. at Lincoln Land Community College in Jacksonville. Appointments will be available from Feb. 6 through April 2.
John Rush, the coordinator of the program and associate professor of accounting, said the program allows students to apply classroom learning to practice as a community service. The experience gives them both technical and soft skills.
“They get experience with and understanding of a professional tax software program. There is a great similarity between software programs, so these skills will largely transfer to other software,” he said. “The students also develop client-relationship skills through the program.”
This year, there are 15 Illinois College students and four MacMurray College students participating in the program, Rush said. Students complete three and a half weeks of intensive training and are required to pass a series of certification exams administered by the IRS in order to prepare tax returns for the public.
To make an appointment on a Tuesday or Thursday at Lincoln Land Community College, contact the Prairie Council on Aging at 217.479.4619.