Bacone Students Volunteer Taxes

Baconian Writer

VITA TAX PROGRAM: Bacone College student volunteers Serena Billy (left) and Steffany Thompson (right) practice explaining tax forms to clients. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (918) 781-7248.


Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from The Bacone College student newspaper, The Baconian, in Muskogee. The faculty advisor is Ann Marie Shackelford, Associate Professor of Journalism.

The Advanced Accounting class of Bacone is holding its first Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Fourteen students began filling out basic tax returns Jan. 25 and will continue through April 15. Directing VITA is Elizabeth Rabe, Bacone accounting instructor.

Student participants are enrolled in Advanced Accounting, studied in IRS preparation guide, and tested before they could volunteer.

Bacone preparers are IRS-VITA certified, according to Rabe. The IRS also requires an agreement to follow all program rules, “keeping our clients‚ information private and confidential,” she said.

Doing taxes for others is a new experience for Juan Lugo. “Before this, I had done my own, but no one else’s,” the senior accounting major said. Bacone students are working with what Rabe describes as basic tax returns for people who make $37,000 or less.

“Clients can be students, school employees, or come from throughout the region,” says Rabe.

The VITA program also has Spanish-speaking translators available, she added. According to the Bacone accounting instructor, clients can save $150-$250 in preparation fees Some people take out refund anticipation loans to pay for their returns, she adds.

“This is not through us,” said Rabe. “Clients don’t need to take out a loan because we don’t charge any fees or interest.”
A common question people ask involves how much time it takes to get back refunds. “It can take as little as two weeks, if they choose to have a direct deposit to their bank account,” Rabe says. “If returns are mailed to them, it can take four to six weeks.”

Dealing with income taxes and the IRS can be unnerving for some, but Lugo has a different opinion.

“I wouldn’t say [I am] scared but more cautious,” says the Oklahoma City senior. Lugo says he has not made a mistake on his own taxes.

“Basic taxes are pretty simple,” he says. “You can’t make a mistake unless you don’t know what you’re doing.” The Bacone VITA program is in the Palmer Center (207) and open Wednesday and Thursday, 3 to 9 p.m. Rabe says appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are accepted.

No tax preparation will be available during Bacone’s Spring Break, March 13-17.

Updated 02-24-2006

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