Grace College School of Business VITA Program to Provide Free ‘Curbside’ Tax Returns
The Grace College School of Business prepares for its fifteenth year of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The program, sponsored by the Gordon Institute of Enterprise Development, provides free tax preparation to elderly, disabled and low-income individuals filing a basic tax return. This year, the school will conduct the returns curbside with a limited number of in-person appointments. Participants can pull up to the lower level parking lot of the Manahan Orthopedic Capital Center (MOCC), 610 Wooster Rd., Winona Lake, Monday, Feb. 5 through Saturday, Mar. 30.
“The School of Business is pleased to announce the fifteenth annual season of the VITA program, a unique opportunity for students to rub shoulders with community members and provide valuable assistance to the underserved,” said Danielle Deal, VITA program coordinator and instructor of accounting at Grace College. “Students are able to convert what they learn in the classroom to practical application, loving their neighbors through Christ-like character and competence, literally living out the Grace College mission. Our hope is that they impact hundreds of people in Kosciusko County in a meaningful and practical way.”
The VITA program will be conducted curbside with a limited number of in-person appointments. When a VITA participant pulls up to the MOCC, a Grace student will come to their car, receive all necessary tax documents, and take them inside to the tax preparers. While the taxes are being completed and quality reviewed, participants can wait in their cars, stay inside the MOCC, or run errands.
Each student enrolled in the Grace College “Introduction to Tax” class is required to volunteer with VITA for 15 hours, but all business students are able to earn practicum credits through volunteering.
“VITA is a great opportunity to serve in the community, to get to work with people and to get practical experience for ourselves,” said Bergman. “It’s been a great way for students to apply what we’re learning in the classroom.”
Bergman has a job lined up at CliftonLarsonAllen, a tax and accounting firm in her hometown of Toledo, Ohio, in September.
While the VITA program is beneficial for business students, it’s equally advantageous for those receiving its service. Janice Koontz, a 1959 Grace graduate and Warsaw resident, has been getting her taxes done through VITA for the past five years.
“VITA has been so easy and so helpful,” said Koontz. “I have a friend who was having problems getting her taxes done correctly, so I let her know about VITA, and she just loves it. She was eager for me to tell her when she could sign up again this year. And I agree with her – it’s so nice to have someone that knows what you need.”
Nearly 50 volunteers, including students, professors, retired CPAs and Lake City Bank employees, make the service possible in Kosciusko County each year. Lake City Bank sends around ten employees each year to prepare taxes and screen taxpayers, several of whom have volunteered with VITA for all 15 years of operation.
“Without the help of Lake City Bank, we really wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” said Deal. Those interested in volunteering can contact Danielle Deal at email@example.com.
VITA appointments can be made via phone at (574) 372-5160, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Appointments are available on Mondays from 5 – 8 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 – 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.