Volunteer Tax Preparers at GCC Help Filers Save Thousands

Tax season may be over, but the number crunchers at Genesee Community College have just released some impressive stats accumulated by the campus VITA program, which helps low income households prepare their income taxes.

Batavia, NY-Tax season may be over, but the number crunchers at Genesee Community College have just released some impressive stats accumulated by the campus VITA program, which helps low income households prepare their income taxes.

For the third year, student and faculty volunteers helped prepare tax forms through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program sponsored by the IRS. The team of 10 GCC preparers donated 200 hours of their time and worked jointly with the Genesee County Department of Social Services to prepare state and federal tax returns for 176 filers. GCC Organizer Cheryl Corke, associate professor of accounting and business, reports that translates into a collective savings of about $22,000 for those filers, based on the estimated $125 fee charged by professional tax preparers. But the numbers get even more impressive—refunds and tax credits issued to those filers totaled more than $248,000!

“The VITA program provides a dual benefit to the community. Our student volunteers enrolled in our Accounting program put their classroom knowledge into practical service,” Ms. Corke said. “And, we are helping low to moderate families have their tax returns prepared for free by knowledgeable staff. The value of the VITA program is very significant.”

The IRS trains and certifies preparers through the “Taxwise” online program, which takes about 40 hours to complete, and VITA recruits the certified volunteers through various organizations to help prepare basic returns for those who qualify. In Genesee County, households can seek assistance if their annual income falls below $50,000.

GCC volunteers for the 2011 tax filing year were:
•Students Nina Casper, Deanna Johnston, Lucine Kaufman, Norman St. John, Justin Thadsamany, and Derek Timm
•Accounting instructor Amy Conley
•IT staff member Jennifer Ross
•Retirees JoAnn Myers and Berneda Scoins also helped with the program

DSS volunteers for the 2011 tax filing season were:
•Preparers Eileen Kirkpatrick, Kristina Gilbert and site coordinator, Mark Castiglione
•Appointment schedulers Betty Marabella and Candy Bezon

Three walk-in sessions took place on campus in February and March. Tax filers could also get help by setting appointments for meetings at the DSS office.

“This was a tremendous team effort, accomplished through hard work and dedication, and I want to thank all of our students for their generosity, the faculty who helped prepare our students for this real-world opportunity, the commitment of the DSS preparers and our tireless Site Coordinator,” Ms. Corke said.

For further information please contact Marketing Communications Associate Director Donna Rae Sutherland at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or via email: dsutherland@genesee.edu.

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