Texas Southmost College Accounting Technology students are currently offering free tax preparation services via the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. For almost 20 years, TSC has partnered with the United Way of Southern Cameron County to offer the VITA service.
Students from TSC’s Special Topics in Taxation course are now assisting individuals and families in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Every year this experience proves to be a great opportunity for our students,” said Maggie Solis, TSC program coordinator of Accounting Technology. “Through service-learning projects like this, our students get to build upon their skills while making a difference.”
This year, the service will be virtual. The Internal Revenue Service will begin processing income tax returns for this tax season Feb. 12.
VITA is at the TSC International Technology Education and Commerce Center Monday through Saturday. TSC Accounting Technology students will volunteer on Saturday mornings.
- Clients may use their personal phones or a tablet provided at ITECC to self-upload their tax documents. VITA volunteers will then work with the documents virtually. Clients will then be contacted by phone, text or email to discuss this year’s tax return and to obtain a virtual signature.
- Clients may also take their tax documents to the ITECC VITA center for scanning while following CDC guidelines. Like the first option, tax preparation is virtually with communication by phone, text or email. The client will then have the option of digitally signing their tax return or signing in person.
“We are in an era where there is a new way of doing everything,” said Solis. “Although we’ve had to adapt and transition our services from in-person to virtual, we’re ready and confident in what we have to offer.”
Olga Rosas will be one of 10 TSC Accounting Technology students preparing tax returns this year through VITA. She says she is enthusiastic about the new process.
“Tax preparation can be expensive, so to be a part of this service-learning opportunity is exciting,” said the 46-year-old. “We get to help our community and make a difference, all while getting real-world experience that will be valuable in starting a successful career.”
According to Solis, last year VITA served more than 2,400 people at the ITECC site with an economic impact valued at more than $5 million.