Tax Day (April 18 this year) is a stressful time for many. But student volunteers from the University of Oregon chapter of the Beta Alpha Psi accounting fraternity are here to help by offering free preparation of simple federal and state tax returns. The service, offered in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), is part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
“Beta Alpha Psi student volunteers have studied and been officially certified to do taxes for people who are low income,” said Emily Orpin, vice president for public relations for Beta Alpha Psi. “It’s for a lot of students and members of our community, and it’s a great way for our accounting students to gain experience and also a great way to give back to the community.”
Tax assistance will be available in Room 155, Braddock Tutoring, in the Lillis Business Complex on the University of Oregon campus on the following dates and times
- March 4, noon-4:00 p.m.
- March 11, noon-4:00 p.m.
- April 8, noon-4:00 p.m.
- April 15, noon-4:00 p.m.
The process is interactive and most returns take about an hour to prepare. Make sure to bring a photo ID, a Social Security card, and all tax documents. For a complete list, see the IRS website.
More complex returns that include capital gains or losses, out-of-state income, and other complications are not eligible for the program. For specifics, and to see if a return qualifies, use this form on the IRS website.
The IRS-Lundquist College partnership began back in the 1999–2000 academic year when instructor of accounting Shannon Dolan, then a student and president of Beta Alpha Psi, was contacted by an IRS representative looking to launch e-file and free tax preparation on college campuses. Dolan and another student, Tracy Fisher, agreed it would be a natural partnership and launched the program. Dolan will serve as faculty advisor to Beta Alpha Psi starting next term.
She said last year Beta Alpha Psi set a goal of 150 returns prepared and exceeded it with 159. Dolan hopes to keep driving that number up each year.
It’s not too late to volunteer as a student preparer. Dolan said accounting students complete a three-step certification process that takes about a day.
“It’s hands-on, real-world tax consulting experience in a safe environment,” she said. “And students sharpen their client interaction skills as well.”
Inquiries about volunteering should be made to Austin Snider at email@example.com.
Beta Alpha Psi is a national network of accountants, although membership is not limited to accounting majors. The organization also has a weekly lecture series, which meets each Thursday at 6 p.m. in Room 211, Lillis Business Complex. Orpin said the lecture topics are not limited to accounting.
“This week we’re talking about networking,” she said, “and our talk next week is on setting up your LinkedIn account, so it can be applied to other things.”
—University Communications, Lundquist College of Business Communications