School of Management graduate student Daniel Schain helps a member of the local community file a tax return through the IRS VITA program.
Photo by Steve Seepersaud
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For some students in the School of Management and members of the local community, the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) is a win-win situation. By helping low- to moderate-income people file tax returns, the students gain valuable tax accounting experience and citizens get free tax help, not needing to worry about shelling out money to a paid tax preparer.
This tax season, about 30 Binghamton University students, most of whom are members of Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting and finance honors organization, are providing this assistance at the Broome Employment Center on Front St. in Binghamton, and the United Way headquarters on South Jensen Road in Vestal.
After attending a national Beta Alpha Psi conference – and hearing about
other chapters’ work with VITA – local president Daniel Schain encouraged his fellow members to get involved. He said it’s a great way to give back to the community, while furthering his own career development.
“[At the time], I had no accounting experience and there aren’t many opportunities in Binghamton to get tax experience,” Schain said. “I did this last year and enjoyed it, so I wanted to do it again this year. You get real-life experience and retain it much more than what you obtain from reading a textbook or an IRS code book.”
Schain, a graduate student in SOM, says he has a full-time job offer from the financial services tax department of Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young, and says many of his classmates and fellow members of Beta Alpha Psi have been able to parlay their VITA experience into job and internship offers.
Students put in about eight hours per week, working mostly with senior citizens and young families.
Jodi Bouyea, coordinator of volunteer services for Broome County’s Department of Social Services, oversees the Binghamton and Vestal VITA sites. She said the volunteer selection process was very competitive, with 67 students applying for about 30 positions.
“If we didn’t have the students, we wouldn’t be able to keep the site open, Bouyea said. “It’s a wonderful service to the community.”