MITCHELL — Most people can’t wait to file their taxes.
The rules and forms can be confusing, and unless you have the know-how to prepare your own, even if you do manage to get a refund, it will cost you money to have a professional do it. work for you.
may have a solution for those who may not have the ability or the means to properly file their taxes, thanks to accounting students willing to lend a hand and the
“This has proven to be a great opportunity for our accounting students,” said Ryan Van Zee, professor of accounting and business management at Mitchell Technical College. “We pride ourselves on helping our students gain real-life experience. There are people in this category who need help, and our students need to learn, and there is no better way to learn than by doing.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant program is an initiative of the Internal Revenue Service designed to support free tax preparation service for underserved individuals through various partner organizations, according to the website. the IRS. This service helps people with low to middle incomes, people with disabilities, seniors and limited English speakers to file their tax returns each year. The IRS awards matching funds to these support organizations that provide free tax preparation services during tax filing season in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
This will be the first year that the service has been offered at Mitchell Technical College, Van Zee said, and because of it, six second-year accounting students will be available Tuesday evenings at the college campus center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. from February 22 and running. until April 12.
“This is basic tax prep for those within the guidelines. If you have a successful business or are in a higher tax bracket (you probably won’t qualify) because it’s more complicated. It’s just to file your taxes. Not corporate or big business tax, we’re just helping you meet your requirements as a citizen,” Van Zee said.
The program offers free basic tax preparation to individuals who meet specific requirements. These requirements include an annual income of less than $57,000, being disabled, not speaking English well, or being a senior.
The program is a two-way street, benefiting not only the general public, but also students who want to develop tax preparation skills and their instructors, Van Zee said.
“Accountants want to learn how to do taxes because they are detail-oriented and need experience,” Van Zee said. “Students learn to do this while being mentored by their instructors, and instructors can show off their expertise while supporting the federal program.”
Students and instructors must go through certification by the IRS. The curriculum for the program is administered by the IRS itself, so students receive hands-on first-hand lessons from the agency responsible for collecting federal income taxes. Van Zee said certification is tough, but the main reward for the student is gaining a lifelong employable skill that will always be in demand.
“It’s also a paying job,” Van Zee said.
Students building their skills is definitely a benefit, Van Zee said, but the program also greatly helps a segment of the taxpaying population that may need help preparing their annual tax returns. Tax forms can be confusing for people who speak English fluently, but for those who don’t speak it well, they can be even more intimidating. Older people may not be tech-savvy, and low-income people may not be able to afford professionals to do the work for them.
In some cases, students can be online to receive free tax preparation.
“It fills a need in our community, which also includes our students, because our students are part of that population that might need help along with everyone else in that particular category,” Van Zee said.
Van Zee said the program goes beyond teaching students the intricacies of interpreting tax rules and making sure the numbers in a column add up correctly. In addition to being often complex and confusing, tax rules change regularly. Program instructors teach students how to learn and adapt to a changing set of rules.
“It will change every year, and that’s how you update yourself every year. We’ll teach you how to be good at what you do,” Van Zee said.
It also offers a solution to the classic question of the entry of new students into the labor market. How to get experience without a job, and how to get a job without experience? While the students perform the work with VITA on a voluntary basis, the experience is not simulated. It’s hard work filing real taxes for real people.
“It’s the answer to how you get experience,” Van Zee said. “You’re going to Mitchell Technical College.”
Van Zee said anyone interested in using the Mitchell Technical College service should contact Annika Russell Manke at 605-995-7120 or email her at [email protected] to find out if she is eligible, take appointments and what documents they might need to bring to their tax preparation meeting.