Joint Effort by PVAMU Faculty, Staff, Students Offers Free Tax Help
Prairie View A&M University’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program once again offered free income tax preparation January through March. The program, a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and PVAMU’s College of Business (COB) and Cooperative Extension Program (CEP) under the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences (CAHS), utilized PVAMU faculty, staff, and students who were certified tax preparers through the IRS.
“Jasmine Powell, who is a senior accounting major, led the effort for our students on the COB side,” said Accounting Professor Clyde McNeil. In February, Dr. Brian Lee, another accounting professor in the COB, helped members of the Korean American Senior Citizens Association in Houston through two VITA sessions.
“Six graduate accounting students helped prepare around 70 tax returns during those two days,” said Lee. “It was a good example of service-learning education because students felt progress in their learning and achievement by producing commercial products (i.e., tax returns) using tax knowledge and computer skills they learned in the class. In addition, they had the opportunity to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds. We are different from each other but learn how we can live together by helping each other.”
And, under the leadership of Cooperative Extension Regional Program leaders Dr. Jacquelyn White and Jimmy Henry, the IRS VITA program was expanded to residents living in Waller, Grimes, Jefferson, and Bell Counties, to name a few.
“Given the changes in the new tax laws, we wanted to enhance our partnership by certifying more Family and Community Health and Community and Economic Development County Extension Agents to assist residents. Also, we extended operation hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The IRS VITA program allowed us to continue to provide a great example of campus partnership and community outreach,” said Bridget Ross, a program specialist in the Cooperative Extension, Community and Economic Development unit.
“We miss Professor William Vetter who started the VITA program in 2004 and retired last year. But we are fortunate for new leaders who stepped in to continue and strengthen this important outreach,” said COB Dean Dr. Munir Quddus. “This program is perhaps one of the best examples of ‘service and experiential learning’ that we organize on campus for our students and the community.”