Accounting students offer free tax services

A group of Wilkes University’s accounting students are offering free tax services to the campus and the surrounding community of Wilkes-Barre during this tax season.

The Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership has made this possible with the Volunteer Income Tax Assitance (VITA). The tax assistance is specifically for individuals whose household incomes are less than $54,000 who file federal, state and local tax returns.

The students have already provided services on Feb. 9 and will hold two more appointment days on Feb. 16 and Feb. 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As apart of the program, students are required to take an advanced taxes class taught by Dr. Cynthia J. Chisarick their junior year to be eligible for consideration for the VITA program. Select students are then chosen to be student coordinators for the program.

These student coordinators are the communicators between the program held at Wilkes and the IRS who make sure that everything is going the way it should throughout the 3 weeks they are providing their services. They also focus on enforcing ethics regarding tax services and making sure everybody understands their responsibilities. The coordinators also have to review all of the returns.

The two student coordinators for this years program were Christine Quinn and Sam Eyler, two senior students in the Business and Leadership School. Both students are entering their second year as coordinators.

Quinn clarified that the program sees about 20 to 30 people a week. She also noted that the services are more likely to help to be used by community members rather than students. 

Eyler focused on the benefits that the student volunteers gain from the program.

“Business-wise everything is pretty competitive as far as AVITA goes it’s great to volunteer and use your major and career direction and tie that in,” said Eyler.“Having some of that experience to fall back on really makes a big difference when applying for jobs and internships.”

Ed Lukowski, a first-year volunteer for the program, talked about why he chose to be apart of the program.

“I chose to take part in this program because I had heard it is a great learning experience and very helpful for anyone looking to go into the field of taxes,” he said. “The most rewarding aspects of this program is that you get to learn through experience and help the community.”

Although the program is a community-based project, the students also commented on how the services benefit them and overall its rewarding effect on the students.

“I feel that as an accounting major it is a great opportunity to gain experience with preparing returns,” said Quinn. “I do find that VITA has many rewarding aspects as it advances me in my career while being able to help the community as well.”

Eyler added how the leadership role is rewarding to him and his peers.

“This year since I have the leadership role, it is going to be rewarding just helping everybody take that first step career-wise,” said Eyler. “It is a great feeling being able to interact with a client.”

Quinn and Lukowski also commented on the outreach that the Business and Leadership School has participated in with this program and how it is important overall.

“It allows the school to stay in touch with the community,” said Lukowski. “It shows that Wilkes University and the Sidhu School students want to help and reach out to the community to show we are here for them.”

“It helps build a professional relationship while the students are preparing returns. It is beneficial because the students are able to apply classroom concepts to real-life scenarios,” Quinn added.

The program will continue to provide services until the end of February. To schedule an appointment, please call (570) 408-4710 and provide your name and return phone number.