Free tax assistance offered by college accounting students

Have you filed your taxes yet? If not, the deadline for submitting your tax returns this year is April 17th. For people who made less than $65,000 last year, free assistance to prepare and file their taxes is available thanks to volunteer students at Stevens-Henager College in Logan. 

The campus, located at 755 South Main in Logan, is one of several sites throughout Northern Utah to participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program operated under the direction of Bear River Association of Governments (BRAG). Danielle Bird is the site manager for the VITA program at Stevens-Henager College, as well as a GED Coordinator at the college. Bird’s father worked for the IRS and assisted people with the VITA program for many years so she has been very familiar with how it can help people who need it most.

“When I asked our director here…if we could have a site on campus,” Bird explains, “he said, ‘Sure!’ So we had a site last year and this is our second year.”

Last year the college assisted 94 people looking for help on their taxes. So far this year – just one month into the program – the college has already assisted 100 people.

Bird says accounting students at the school have undergone specific training to be certified by the IRS.

“It’s a great program. It’s a service by VITA and TCE, which is Tax Counseling for the Elderly,” she continues. “It’s great for low-income families and for seniors. It’s a way to get your taxes completed for free.

“We have a volunteer who completes your taxes. They get quality reviewed and we electronically file them for you.”

Bird says it has been a really good mix of young families to senior citizens who have been coming in to take advantage of the free service, which includes state and federal tax filing. Jimmy Birman, Executive Director of the Stevens-Henager College campus in Logan, says the program benefits both his students and the community.

“The community gets another site here in the valley. It’s a free service for anyone who makes under $65,000; they can come in and get their taxes done,” says Birman. “For our students, it’s a win because as a career college we are teaching skills that are practical in real-world applications.

“For them to sit down with a customer base outside of what they are normally looking at, they are able to get that real-world work, help out, put in service hours, and put what they are doing in the classroom into a real-world situation.”

“I know the students are enjoying the real-world experience,” Bird adds. “They get the service learning hours for their Income Tax class. Lucas Martin, at BRAG, is the regional coordinator for VITA in the area. He is doing a great job and we will keep going until the end of tax season.”

The free tax assistance is offered three times a week through April 13th. Volunteers are available at the school on Wednesdays from 5:30-8 p.m., Thursdays from 5:30-8 p.m., and Fridays from 12-3 p.m. 

For anyone interested in receiving help, they can call the 211 help line to set up an appointment, visit <a href=”http://211utah.org/index.php/vita” target=”_blank”>211utah.org</a>, call the Logan campus directly at (435) 752-0903 or come in during the designated dates and times.

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