Livingstone students provide free tax assistance
By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone CollegeNews Service
As certified public accountants scrambled to finish 2011 tax returns for customers on Monday, four Livingstone College students wrapped up several months of free tax service assistance.
The students are part of Livingstone College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, program.
“We started doing this in January, and we assisted about 45 people, said junior Annecia Williams, an accounting major from Baltimore.
The VITA Program typically offers free tax help to people who make $50,000 or less and need assistance preparing their returns, according to the Internal Revenue Service’s Web site. Through the program, IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation to qualified individuals in local communities.
VITA sites are generally community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations. Most VITA locations also offer free electronic filing, the IRS Web site said.
Delbert Capel, who lives in Greensboro and attends Empire Beauty School, stopped by Livingstone College on Friday to receive assistance with his taxes.
Capel works at Fatz Café on High Point Road in Greensboro and said it was worth the gas to make the trip.
“I think it’s great,” Capel said. “I didn’t want to pay anyone to get my taxes done. I had inquired about some free tax services in Rockingham, but I learned about this and decided to come down.”
Jametta Gilmore, a senior accounting major from Darlington, S.C., said a few of the people who stopped by the makeshift tax office — located on the first floor of The Hood Building — “had already started doing their taxes, usually with Turbo Tax.”
It took about 30 minutes to an hour to complete an individual’s forms, Gilmore said.
Livingstone College students took advantage of the free tax service, but so did Salisbury and Rowan County residents, as well as people from other areas, like Capel.
“I liked doing this because people who didn’t have the money to pay someone to do their taxes could come here and get it done for free,” said Joshua Calhoun, a junior accounting major from Rockingham. In fact, it was Calhoun who recommended the free service to Capel.
Darrick Headen, a senior accounting major from Moncure, said he was glad to be part of Livingstone’s VITA program.
“I liked doing it to help people,” Headen said. “Besides, it looks good on my resume, and it’s also a way to gauge whether this is what I want to do when I graduate.”
Headen, Gilmore, Calhoun and Williams all said they plan to pursue MBAs after they graduate.
Although they would have liked to have assisted more people, they’re grateful for the ones they did help.
“The students are committed to the VITA program and worked to make it a success,” said Margaret Umlauf, senior tax consultant with the Internal Revenue Service. “We appreciate their contributions of time and talent, which is so vital to the program, and we hope to continue to build on their success and effort to deliver future VITA services to the community.”
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