Rio Grande, Ohio – The University of Rio Grande’s Emerson E. Evans School of Business is offering Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) through the accounting program.. The VITA program offers free tax preparation to low-income taxpayers. Interested students and faculty at Rio have volunteered to assist the community by becoming IRS-certified to offer tax counseling. Rio’s volunteers include not only accounting students, but students in other majors as well as faculty. College of Business Professor Brenda Sharp said this is a unique opportunity for the students and faculty to collaborate to provide service to the community.
“Community service is emphasized as part of the education here at Rio and this program gives the student and faculty volunteers an opportunity to learn while they are providing an important service to the community. We are offering free tax preparation by our volunteers who are trained and certified through the IRS VITA tax training program. This is a great opportunity for the community to interact with students in the School of Business,” Sharp said. “This program gives students and faculty the opportunity to work together outside the classroom, fostering more mentor style relationships between faculty and students. I’m so proud of the time and effort everyone has put into volunteering to prepare returns and the hours of training to become certified.”
To qualify for VITA, the taxpayer must have an income of $54,000 or less. The site will only prepare basic tax returns, which include wage and retirement incomes. As a requirement set by the IRS for VITA locations, clients must bring a photo ID for the taxpayer(s) to their appointment. If taxpayers are married and filing jointly, both spouses must be present. They are also required to show a Social Security card for everyone whose name is included on the tax return. Sharp said it is important for Rio to offer this opportunity to assist residents with federal and Ohio income taxes.
“We are here to fulfill a need in the community. Anyone who meets VITA’s criteria will be able to come to campus to get their federal taxes prepared for free,” Sharp said. “Filing taxes is required by law, but not everyone has the ability to pay to have their taxes prepared or the knowledge to prepare their own returns. VITA provides some relief by offering free assistance to those who qualify. Providing this service here on our campus is one way we can give back to our community.”
The VITA service is by appointment, but walk-ins are accepted upon availability.. Volunteers are available in Bob Evans Farms Hall every Monday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. through Thursday, April 11. The VITA site will be closed the week of March 4 during Rio’s Spring Break. For more information or make an appointment, contact Linda Thevenir at 740-245-7373 or Brenda Sharp at 740-245-7284.