WILMINGTON — As tax season hit the midway mark, nine Wilmington College students have already assisted more than three dozen residents complete their annual tax returns — and the IRS recently rated their work with a perfect 100 percent.
The IRS-certified, volunteer tax preparers are offering this service free-of-charge as part of the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). Wilmington College is a VITA site that offers tax help to persons who, generally, make less than $54,000, those with disabilities and taxpayers with limited English-speaking skills.
Al Beatty, assistant professor of accounting, praised his students for their voluntary work and commitment to excellence, citing the IRS’ glowing accolades following its site review.
“These students have been working every Tuesday and Thursday night, with a few Saturday mornings, well past the time of any classes and sometimes as late as 9 p.m. — to get the job done,” said Beatty, an IRS enrolled agent/site manager. “They have done this without pay and without complaint, in spite of some challenging circumstances.”
Beatty added that they are not only learning about tax preparation, but they also are developing customer service skills, time management skills and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
“They have assisted so many people in the community with a needed service that’s free of charge,” Beatty said, noting they have helped the elderly, persons with disabilities, those re-entering the work force after incarceration, fellow students, College employees and those who have been “devastated after losing a spouse who handled such matters such as taxes.”
“Our students are not only following through with hands-on-learning of the technical tax preparation trade, but they are also fulfilling values embraced by our Quaker College — service and respect of all people regardless of background. I am so proud of them.”
All nine student volunteers have passed at least three levels of IRS certification. Several also took Beatty’s tax accounting course during the fall semester, as well as additional training over their Christmas break.
One of his students is Tara Karnes, who worked WC’s VITA site last year. Then, they only helped guide persons through their tax returns, while this year she is helping manage the site that is actually preparing tax returns. “I am very impressed with her management and communication skills,” Beatty said.
Karnes, a senior from Greenfield, has a dual major in accounting and marketing.
“VITA has truly given me the hands-on learning experience I needed to decide about my career plans,” Karnes said, noting this experience combines concepts learned in the classroom with how they can be applied out in the world. “We are interacting with clients, organizing tax documents and preparing return — plus, along the way, we are getting to help persons in the community that many of us grew up in.
“It has been a great opportunity to learn things about myself and grow as a person, as well as a professional.”
Hours of operation are Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 5 to 8 p.m., through April 18, and on Saturday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to noon. Sessions are held in WC’s Center for the Sciences and Agriculture, at the corner of College and Elm streets.
The site will be closed over the College’s spring break, March 13 to 17, however Karnes can be comntacted to schedule appointments. She can be reached at (937) 763-9932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.