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, $49,000 and below) who cannot prepare their own 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 (i.e. SJU). In 2010, some 3 million income tax returns were prepared by more than 40,000 VITA volunteers at almost 4,500 VITA sites nationwide.


What is the History of VITA at Saint Joseph’s University?
Accounting Professor. W. Richard Sherman founded the VITA program at Saint Joseph’s University in 1993. During the early years of VITA, SJU student volunteers prepared tax returns on campus as well as off-campus locations. For example, from 1997 through the 2000 filing seasons, SJU student volunteers traveled to Roxborough’s Interac Senior Center to assist residents in preparation of federal and state income tax returns. Today, all tax returns prepared by SJU volunteers are completed on campus.
Accounting Instructor Dennis Raible assumed coordination of SJU's VITA Program in 2007.


Seven good reasons to volunteer for VITA
1.    Provide a needed service to our patrons residing in the nearby communities.
2.    Learn federal and state individual income tax law.
3.    Learn and utilize commercial tax preparation software to prepare tax returns.
4.    Gain meet-and-deal experience in a professional environment.
5.    Meet other SJU student volunteers and have fun while learning.
6.    Broaden educational experience outside the classroom.
7.    Volunteering for VITA is an excellent addition to a résumé.

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.”
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.”
The SJU/VITA Program links the Ignatian theme of service with a need for tax assistance by taxpayers from neighboring communities. For example, many of our patrons rely on large federal tax refunds, some of which are generated by the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal welfare program administered through the tax code.


How many volunteers participated in VITA in 2012?
Some 50 SJU student volunteers prepared and electronically filed about 500 federal and state individual income tax returns during the 2012 filing season.  Federal tax refunds exceeding $240,000 were issued to patrons that had  tax returns prepared by SJU VITA volunteers.
Undergraduate volunteers for the 2012 filing season were as follows: 8 Freshman, 20 Sophomores, 8 Juniors and 14 Seniors. Rounding out our volunteers were several Professors from the Accounting Department.


What is the time commitment for VITA?                                                                                    
Typically students volunteer 3 to 4 hours a week. The program operates two evenings a week, however students only volunteer one of those evenings. On-campus VITA tax return preparation takes place in the Accounting Department office on the third floor of Mandeville Hall. We start at 5PM and end-up about 9PM. Dinner is provided for volunteers! The entire VITA season spans 12 weeks, ending the first week of April.

Will I receive training on preparing income tax returns?
Yes. IRS supports our VITA program with the resources necessary to prepare individual income tax returns. IRS provides tax training publications and supports  web-based training, known as “Link & Learn.”  IRS also provides SJU with tax preparation software for volunteers to practice income tax return preparation.
First-time volunteers begin VITA training at the start of the Spring Term. (Training is one evening per week.) Over the next four weeks, volunteers learn about federal and state income tax law, practice using tax preparation software and  review IRS’s VITA rules. Returning SJU volunteers have the option to review tax law and practice tax return preparation on IRS’s “Link & Learn” website. IRS requires all VITA volunteers to obtain certification annually by passing an on-line income tax examination.

How do I inquire about volunteering for VITA?
The on-campus VITA program is a popular student enrichment program at SJU. On the other hand, our VITA model and campus resources limit the number of student volunteers that can effectively participate in the program. SJU VITA volunteers are selected by the Accounting faculty from those students that have expressed an interest in the on-campus program. The selection criteria is primarily based on class-room academic performance.

To inquire about volunteering for VITA, contact:
Professor Dennis Raible
386 Mandeville Hall
draible@sju.edu
610-660-1131