Each Monday in February, Transylvania University accounting students are offering free income tax prep for the Lexington community.
Participating Transylvania students wrapped up training today, which happens to be the day the IRS starts processing tax returns.
These students, who are mostly juniors and seniors, will be getting practical experience while serving their community, as Pioneers have been doing through VITA since 1980. Transylvania is the only school in Kentucky to give students credit for participating.
“We’re taking what we do in the classroom and we’re able to apply it in these real-world situations,” said accounting professor Christi Hayne, a 2003 alumna. “It’s something almost every Transy accounting student has participated in. VITA is very much a part of the Transylvania experience.”
Taking part in a program with actual consequences for the public can be intimidating, “but they get over that hurdle,” Hayne added. “That alone is a good learning experience for them.”
For instance, students may find out that just because something isn’t on a test doesn’t mean they’ll never have to deal with it — because the real world throws plenty of curve balls. They have to know how to ask clients the right questions, which also means they’re developing communication skills along with technical ones.
Hayne pointed out that her students do an excellent job processing the returns — but just to make sure there aren’t any mistakes, a tax professional reviews them before they’re filed.
Plus, it’s not just about getting the job done, but making sure clients get all that’s due to them. “Our goal is to get the best return we can for the taxpayer,” Hayne said.
Senior Kaden Bates said VITA enables him to “apply my education to better the Lexington community I am a part of,” adding that taking part in the program last year was a “phenomenal” experience.
He also pointed out how this practical experience is “something other classes can struggle with and what makes being a part of this program valuable to me. I am excited for the coming year as the number of students has nearly doubled since the previous year. I highly encourage others to consider this as you become upperclassmen in the BA or accounting programs.”
Fellow senior Lacy Wiese also sees value in applying skills she’s learned in class toward real work — in a way that makes her excited for her future career. “The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program has not only been a great way for me to give back to the community of Lexington but a fun way to gain some experience using tax software, expanding upon the knowledge I’ve learned in the classroom,” she said.
To participate in Transylvania’s VITA program, you’ll need:
- A photo ID for you and your spouse if filing jointly.
- Social Security cards for you and all others on your return.
- Routing and account number for accounts for direct deposit of your refund if you choose to do so.
- All W-2s from employers.
- All 1098 or 1099 forms.
- Your last return and any other tax-related forms.
- A completed intake form (we recommend you fill this out before arrival).
The tax preparation sessions are every Monday in February from 3-5:30 p.m. in the Cowgill Center, Room 101.
For more information, email email@example.com. Note that Schedule C preparation is not part of this free program.