Students Provide Tax Assistance
Perhaps the best example of witnessing the Elms College core values community and justice at work is in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) program.
This year, accounting students at Elms College partnered with Springfield Partners for Community Action. The program prepares tax returns for low-income workers who cannot afford a tax-preparation service.
This tax season, Springfield Partners for Community Action will file approximately 2,000 federal income tax returns and many of those will be thanks to Keith Godek '13. Since he began his internship, Keith has prepared taxes for ten to 12 people a day and trained five other student volunteers who have also assisted numerous clients.
"Training and mentoring other students requires confidence and knowledge of the subject matter, both of which Keith possesses," said Martin O'Connor, income tax advocate at Springfield Partners for Community Action. "He genuinely likes to help those in need of our tax service and has taken on a role of leadership."
Keith, an accounting major and mathematical science minor, plans on becoming an actuarial accountant. He decided to begin training for VITA to establish hands-on experience with numbers and to ease the fears of the clients with whom he would be working, knowing what it's like to be in their position.
"A lot of people are intimidated by taxes because there's a lot of rules and regulations. You go in there and watch people type all these numbers and you're biting your nails, hoping to get a good refund," Keith said.
Keith admits that he knew nothing about taxes before he began the training program that led to the internship with Springfield Partners for Community Action. Now he is very comfortable in his tax knowledge-as evidenced by being trusted to train other volunteers-and enjoys the human element of working with other people and helping them get the refund they deserve.