Volunteer tax assistance program benefits community and students

Tax preparation documents.
February 11, 2014

Although the calendar notes more than two months before the April 15 filing deadline, tax season is well underway for Accounting professor Susan Milstein and her dedicated band of 28 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) students.

In this, the 23rd year of the program Milstein conceived and created, the 18 newcomers and 10 veterans will serve some 200 clients with income-tax return preparation.

“VITA is all that I hoped it would become and more,” says Milstein, a CPA whose tax preparation business is in its fourth decade. “Our VITA program helps our students, helps our community and helps our college.”

McDaniel’s VITA program serves moderate- to low-income families and individuals by having students help answer questions, prepare tax returns and file electronically. The students receive credit for training hours and time spent with clients.

Certified public accountants, most of whom are alumni, volunteer at each of the 21 sessions to check returns and help students respond to questions. Among the alumni volunteers this year are Kyle Marotta ’06, Billy Thomas ’06, Nicol Moeller ’06, Jeff Quinn ’07, Katherine Zhang ’10 and Aaron Slaughter ’10 – all of whom now work in accounting or financial services and at one time were student VITA volunteers.

Also mentoring the students and checking their work will be Business/Economics lecturer Don Lavin, director of financial services and treasurer Art Wisner and associate director of financial aid Ellie Geiman. Senior Katherine Chen, a Business Administration-Economics dual major from Fallston, Md., is student coordinator of the program, overseeing the tax preparation schedule for the third consecutive year.

Clients return year after year for help with their tax returns, and many of the McDaniel students who have worked with VITA have been hired by accounting firms immediately after graduation due in part to their expertise in tax preparation.

VITA is open to individuals who earn $35,000 a year or less and families with earnings of $50,000 a year or less. Tax help sessions are 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, and 27, March 4, 6, 11, 13, 25, and 27, April 1, 3, and 8, and noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays, Feb. 15 and 22, March 1, 8 and 29, and April 5.

Appointments are required and scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 410-871-3344 or ext. 3344 on campus. Leave a message and someone will return your call. To contact VITA via e-mail: vitatax@mcdaniel.edu.