CU Students Return to Goodwill
Cameron University and Goodwill Industries are working together with the IRS in the 2017 income tax filing season.
Until April 15, both Lawton Goodwill stores will be hosting the annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program where Cameron students either volunteer or intern to file people’s income tax returns.
Goodwill stores of Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas are among the locations where the VITA program takes place.
Goodwill has partnered with Cameron for six years to help provide student volunteers. The VITA program is an opportunity for students to train and become an IRS Certified Tax Preparer. Any CU student is welcome to volunteer regardless of their major.
Goodwill stores in Wichita Falls and Chickasha are also hosting VITA. Walk-in tax preparations are welcome – no appointments are necessary. All types of simple income tax filings are prepared for free. Proof of identification and all necessary income statements and forms are required.
CU Accounting Instructor Bernadette Lonzanida said that business and accounting majors can work with VITA in two ways.
“They can do it as a volunteer or they can do it for credit as an intern,” she said. “When we say for credit, it means that they are given requirements for it to count as a three hour class.”
Some student requirements for the internship credit consist of junior classification and a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students must successfully complete the IRS Link and Learn online training and pass four tests on required tax law knowledge. To learn how to use the software, Tax Wise software training is provided in January. Interns must commit to a minimum of 150 hours during the tax season: 20 hours of training and testing with 130 hours assisting customers with income tax filing.
To work as a paid volunteer students do not have to be business or accounting majors. All volunteers and interns must go through the training that is provided onsite through Goodwill and the IRS in December and January to become IRS certified to file taxes. All who volunteer to file income tax returns and successfully complete training and tests are compensated hourly for the time they spend preparing tax returns.
Rocky Goforth, the Chief Financial Officer and VP of Finance at Goodwill Industries of Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas, said that Goodwill decided to start VITA when employees who received several hundred dollars back in their tax returns were paying up to $450 to have their returns prepared.
“It left them with little money left in their returns,” Goforth said. “After doing some research we found a need for this service in our community for many taxpayers who were paying large amounts to have their returns filed. We started this program to help people in our community keep the full income tax they earn each year.”
Because the services of Goodwill and VITA are free, taxpayers can keep all of their income tax refund money to use for whatever they wish. It helps to put more disposable income back into the Lawton community.
If any CU students at the junior level or higher are interested in working with Goodwill and the IRS to file people’s income taxes, contact Professor Lonzanida or Rocky Goforth for more information.
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