When student Quy Van prepared a tax return for a Haitian nurse, Van needed a translator because of the man’s limited English. But the appreciation the nurse felt needed no translation. He gave Van a big hug for a job well done.
Handshakes, hugs and profound gratitude were the order of the day as, once again this tax season, accounting students from the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU) helped low-income earners complete their tax forms. The students participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a free service established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“A person at Deloitte where I have an internship said every person in accounting should have experience in tax preparation,” Van said. “What I got from helping people was even more important.”
Maria I. Perez said that when the IRS person explained the program in her tax class and asked for volunteers, she immediately raised her hand.
“I didn’t think about it twice,” Perez said. “I like taxes and I like to help people, so this was a good opportunity. What I didn’t know was also how much I would learn in the training.”
The preparation that the 26 students completed was extensive, including online modules and certificate testing followed by more training on three Saturdays in January.
Well-equipped, the FIU students then completed nearly 300 hundred tax returns at VITA locations in Miramar, Sweetwater, Tamarac (Broward), Miami, North Miami, West Miami and Corpus Christi. Alumna Beatriz Sosa (BACC ’10) served as one of the site coordinators.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and other leaders thank student volunteers.
At a recognition event on May 2, 2012 at Ronselli Park in Sweetwater, IRS senior tax consultant Ana Raposo thanked the volunteers as did city commissioner Prisca Barreto and park director Luis Quintero.
FIU alumna Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (MS ’85, BS ’75), representing Florida’s 18th Congressional District, hosted a recognition for VITA volunteers at her office in West Miami, on May 3rd.
“The Congresswoman’s enthusiasm and appreciation for our volunteer efforts were a special recognition,” said Perez, who attended the event. “She was very warm, very welcoming.”