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Help is Here

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.

Public accounting student Christopher Gillespie ’17, who is the current director of the VITA program and runs the lab, says he’s constantly in contact with the IRS to ensure Pace continues to meet their standards. All student volunteers are trained with IRS materials and, once your taxes are done, volunteers run your returns through IRS diagnostic software before they are filed. The program is open to anyone whose income does not exceed $54,000, no matter what state you file in.

Wondering why you won’t be getting a fat refund check in the mail? In addition to filing your tax returns, the students can also offer some fundamental advice about why you owe what you owe and what you can do in the future.

Last year they filed more than 350 federal and state returns. “Since we prepared 350+ returns and had about 80 volunteers, Beta Alpha Psi received a certificate of appreciation from the IRS at the Beta Alpha Psi National Meeting,” says Gillespie, who is hoping to file more than 500 returns this tax season and grow the program further.

In addition to helping the community, VITA also helps those students participating in the program to prepare for the real world. “The VITA program is one of the greatest community service programs that Beta Alpha Psi provides. Not only does it provide real-world tax experience, but [personally,] it has also molded me into a leader and a manager,” he says. Gillespie credits his experience with Beta Alpha Psi and the VITA program in his decision to ultimately pursue a career in the tax field.

And he invites other Pace students to join him in the program. “Depending on the role you take in VITA, you not only learn taxes and how to return personal 1040s, but you also learn how to lead and become a better worker. A lot of the people that volunteer here learn how to interact with the client in a way that they will feel comfortable leaving our site after their return is completed. I pride myself on educating everyone around me and ensuring them to be better professionals,” he says.

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 11, and is located in Room W403 at One Pace Plaza. If you have any questions, e-mail or call (212) 346-1990. For more information about VITA and what you need to bring with you, click here.