Not only did tax payers get an extra two days to file their returns this year thanks to April 15 falling on a Saturday, but also low-income earners in the area benefited from the efforts of 120 hard-working students from the College of Business Administration, trained to complete all the required paperwork for filing. They were participants in the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which the college offers as part of its Civic Engagement Initiative and in which students work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assisting low-income taxpayers.
Myron Lubell, associate professor, School of Accounting, who founded the VITA program at Florida International University in 1980 and taught it for five years in the past, recruited the students and conducted the training sessions during January 2006.
In addition to the training, the VITA program also requires that students complete an open-book qualifying examination before assisting with the returns.
David Lavin, who led the VITA effort in the college for a number of years as a faculty member in the School of Accounting, taught the volunteers how to do the returns for international students at the university.
With their training completed, the students went into the community during tax time, working at two sites: the Navarro’s Pharmacy at 12000 SW 8th St. and the José Mas Canosa Youth Center at 250 SW 114th Ave. Each spent a total of twenty hours preparing returns.
When the count was in, the students had completed a grand total of 351 returns.
The college’s Civic Engagement Initiative creates and supports projects that help students experience the importance of service and community leadership. More information about both the Civic Engagement Initiative and VITA—which the college has offered since the 1980s—is available at http://business.fiu.edu/service/index.htm.