Haub School of Business

Department of Accounting

Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (“VITA”)?
Who Administers VITA?
What is the History of VITA at Saint Joseph’s University?
Seven good reasons to volunteer for VITA
How does VITA relate to SJU’s Mission?
How many volunteers participated in VITA?
What is the time commitment for VITA?                                                                         
Will I receive training on preparing income tax returns?
How do I inquire about volunteering for VITA?


What is Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (“VITA”)?
The VITA program offers free tax help to low-  to moderate-income individuals, (generally, $54,000 and below) who need assistance preparing their federal and state tax returns.


Who Administers VITA?
The Internal Revenue Service administers the VITA program in partnership with community organizations, non-profit foundations, faith based organizations, financial and educational institutions. In 2015, some 3.7 million income tax returns were prepared by more than 90,000 VITA volunteers at thousands of VITA sites nationwide.


What is the History of VITA at Saint Joseph’s University?
The VITA program began at Saint Joseph’s University in 1993. Today, all tax returns prepared by SJU volunteers are completed on campus.  Accounting Instructor Dennis Raible has been the coordinator for the SJU's VITA Program since 2007.


Seven good reasons to volunteer for VITA
1.    Provide a needed service to our patrons, of which many reside in areas surrounding SJU.
2.    Learn federal/state individual income tax law.
3.    Learn and utilize commercial tax preparation software.
4.    Gain meet-and-deal experience in a professional environment.
5.    Work alongside other Accounting majors from all years.
6.    Broaden educational experience outside the classroom.
7.    VITA volunteers are able to add VITA-experience to their résumés. 


How does VITA relate to SJU’s Mission?

SJU’s Mission Statement notes, in part;  “The University’s Ignatian identity . . . espouses the educational priorities of the Society of Jesus which include:  searching for God in all things, pursuit of the greater good, the service of faith together with the promotion of justice, and effective compassion for the poor and those in need.” The Internal Revenue Service’s website notes the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program “offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income people who cannot prepare their own tax returns.”

SJU’s VITA Program links the Ignatian theme of service with the need for tax assistance by taxpayers that can least afford excessive commercial tax preparation fees. Also, many of our patrons rely on substantial federal tax refunds, some of which are generated by the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal assistance program administered through the tax code.


How many volunteers participated in VITA in 2012?
Some fifty-five student volunteers prepared about 330 federal/state individual income tax returns during the 2015 filing season (2014 tax returns).  Federal tax refunds exceeding $250,000 were issued to patrons that had their tax returns prepared by SJU VITA student-volunteers. During this tax filing season, our volunteers were comprised of: 24 Sophomores, 14 Juniors, 14 Seniors, 1 graduate student and 2 Accounting Certificate students. Also, a recently retired SJU Finance Professor volunteered his services.


What is the time commitment for VITA?                                                                                    
Typically student’s volunteer about 5 hours a week. Our program operates two evenings per week, beginning the first weeks  of the Spring semester through the first week in April. Half of our student volunteers prepare returns on one evening, the other half on the second evening. Tax return preparation takes place on-campus in the Accounting Department’s suite of offices on the third floor of Mandeville Hall. VITA appointments begin at 5PM and finish up about 8:30PM. Our volunteers dine on pizza.

Will I receive training on preparing income tax returns? 

IRS supports our VITA program with all the resources necessary for volunteers to prepare individual income tax returns. IRS provides training publications and, a web-based training platform.  IRS make available to SJU tax preparation software for both training and actual tax return preparation. During our training phase, volunteers learn about federal/state income tax law, practice using tax preparation software and learn about IRS’s mandated VITA procedures. The final phase of training requires volunteers to obtain certification by passing an IRS income tax examination and demonstrating familiarity with tax preparation software.

How do I inquire about volunteering for VITA?

During the Fall semester, Sophomores interested in participating in SJU VITA, please contact Dennis Raible,  draible@sju.edu office - MV 386.

The on-campus VITA program is a popular Accounting Department student enrichment program. For practical reasons, our VITA model must limit the number of student-volunteers that can participate.

The SJU Accounting Department faculty selects volunteers from the list of interested Sophomores. A student’s academic performance is the primary criteria used by faculty in selecting volunteers.