St. John’s University’s Unveils New Virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center
Accounting major Garvey Jean was among the Peter. J. Tobin College of Business student volunteers celebrating the opening of the Virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center at St. John’s University—one of the first of its kind on a University Campus. The new center in Marillac Hall will use advanced technologies to provide free tax preparation services for an even larger number of low-income New Yorkers.
To date, approximately 400 St. John’s student volunteers have prepared income tax returns, obtaining almost $10 million in refunds for nearly 5000 VITA clients in Brooklyn and Queens, most of whom received earned income tax credits that are used to pay for food, clothing and rent. VITA is an IRS program, and St. John’s partners with Foodbank NYC to participate. Clients are able to access virtual drop-off sites throughout the city to upload their tax documentation to a secure website.
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“The Virtual VITA program will help us help even more low-income New Yorkers get refunds,” says Mr. Jean, who has participated in the program for the past two years and is Executive Director of the St. John’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). “By preparing taxes, my fellow student volunteers and I really helped people move forward in their lives. It’s a great feeling to give back to your community.”
“Participating in the VITA program allows St. John’s students to gain invaluable real-world experience, while helping those in need at the same time,” says St. John’s VITA program founder, Nina Dorata, PhD. “In today’s economy, this program is critical.”
In addition to the virtual center at the University, students will also be on site at St. John’s Bread and Life in Brooklyn, to work with clients one-on-one through the VITA program.
To contact the VITA program, please visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers.