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Georgia Southern students to provide free income tax preparation for community

Samantha Markley, an accounting student, helps a local tax payer with his taxes at the VITA Site in downtown Statesboro.

Georgia Southern senior Alyssa Morgan is looking forward to tax season this year. 

As a student in the School of Accountancy in the Parker College of Business, Morgan will gain hands-on experience with tax preparation as she and her peers offer free tax prep and e-file services to residents in Statesboro and surrounding communities through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

“Being a part of the VITA Program will give me an opportunity to receive real-world, hands-on experience preparing income tax returns,” Morgan said. “It will also help me further develop my soft skills and add more certifications to my résumé. I look forward to working with clients and other volunteers this tax season and learning more about tax law.”

Free tax preparation and e-file services are offered to taxpayers with a household income of $60,000 or less. The VITA site at Georgia Southern can prepare tax year 2019 federal and Georgia (full-year resident) individual income tax returns. 

“This is a win-win situation for the community and accounting students,” said Gloria Stuart, CPA, lecturer in the School of Accountancy. “Community members will receive free tax preparation services provided by IRS-certified volunteers, and all tax returns will be reviewed for accuracy before they’re e-filed. Accounting students will gain real-world tax preparation experience. The students will be able to apply the concepts learned in the classroom to real tax situations, improve their communication skills, and use professional tax preparation software.”

All accounting students and faculty volunteering in the VITA program have completed training and passed the IRS VITA certification exams with a score of 80% or higher. Tax returns will be prepared using professional tax software provided by the IRS. All prepared tax returns will be reviewed for accuracy before they’re e-filed and will go through a quality review process as required by the IRS VITA program standards.

The Georgia Southern VITA site is located in downtown Statesboro at the Parker College of Business City Center location on 58 East Main Street. Tax preparation is available from 1 to 4 p.m. on Mondays and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays through April 6.

Five Saturday sessions will be available on Feb. 8, Feb. 22, March 7, March 28 and April 4 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. No sessions will be held the week of the University’s spring break which is March 16 through 20. 

Tax preparation services are offered on a walk-in basis, first come, first served. It is recommended to arrive as early as possible due to the limited number of taxpayers that can be served during each session. 

Certain tax situations are out of scope with the VITA program. At this time, the VITA site at Georgia Southern is unable to prepare returns for military or international students due to the additional certifications required to service these taxpayers under the VITA program. These services may be added in the future. For more information about the VITA program and a list of items to bring, please visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/parker/vita.

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