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Tick-Tock Goes the Tax Clock

News Story

Albert Einstein once said “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” Thankfully, Pace VITA volunteers are here to help you file your taxes before time runs out.

As the tax filing deadline looms and our anxiety about the who, what, where, why, and how much of tax returns kicks in, Pace students in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program have three kind words: “let us help.”

Organized by Lubin’s Iota Lambda chapter of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), Pace students have been preparing federal, state, and local tax returns free of charge for low- and moderate-income individuals, families, and senior citizens in the local community for more than 15 years through the IRS’ VITA Program. So long as their income does not exceed $53,000, regardless of what state they file in, VITA will help them prepare—and this goes for Pace students, too.

Lubin MS in Accounting student Annie Tan ’15 is the current director of the VITA Program, and oversees the training of all the volunteers; they learn how to prepare taxes with IRS materials, and run the prepared returns through IRS diagnostic software before they’re filed. In addition, the volunteers can also offer advice about why you might owe what you owe, and what you can do in the future to increase a tax refund in the future.

Last year, VITA hit a high water-mark, and filed almost 380 federal and state returns. “Our goal for this year is 400,” says Tan. “We have never reached that amount to date, and we’d like to.” She invites other Pace students to join her. “Working with VITA looks great on a resume, and on LinkedIn; it provides students with valuable experience and credibility. It helps low to moderate income individuals file their tax returns, which benefits the outside community. And it gives students a chance to learn how to file personal federal and state tax returns, a skill they can use for the rest of their life, on top of strengthening students’ customer service skills, leadership skills, and communication skills.”

It has personally benefited Tan, as well. “As the director of the VITA program, this position has provided me with a great opportunity to utilize my communication skills by working with IRS specialists, managing the VITA site’s volunteer staff and overseeing their training program. With such experience, I have definitely strengthened my leadership skills and teamwork skills, which will prepare me very well for my own career.”

She also adds that foreign students might learn a few interesting facts about paying US taxes. “They don’t have to pay medical tax and social security tax,” Tan says. “As a result, when they are filling out their tax forms, they can notify their payroll department that they can’t withhold those two taxes.” Not to mention, helping them save some money on their taxes—and take the frustration out of trying to figure them out alone.

The VITA Lab is open on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. through April 10, and is located in Room W403 at One Pace Plaza. If you have any questions, e-mail paceuvita@gmail.com or call (212) 618-6411. For more information about VITA and what you need to bring with you, visit the VITA website.

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