Taxes Too Taxing?

STEP and the college have partnered to provide annual preparation service to the community

Compiled by Staff

Refentse Maselwa, Staff Writer

Let Ferrum College make your taxes look easy.

Students at the college have assisted with STEP’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program along with the college’s own VITA site for years.

They have partnered up with STEP, which provides FREE tax preparation services for families and individuals earning less than $56,000 annually. As trained and certified volunteers, the students are able to prepare most standard IRS documents and submit returns electronically.

They will also help their clients take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and more.

“Our students put in a tremendous amount of effort to learn the new tax laws and regulations to properly prepare tax returns for our clients,” said Sadie Wallace, assistant professor of accounting and VITA program director.

The program has been around for years. Wallace was a part of the program when she was a student here and eventually took over the program as a professor.

“The tax program has been around for over 20 years, and I was a part of it as a student in 2014 until I took over in 2018,” said Wallace.

The tax prep program is thriving, and Wallace said that they average about 500 taxes per year. Students are encouraged to join the tax program regardless of their major. The perks of joining the program as a student are the ability to learn how to do taxes and get certified in the process.

Students who are in the tax program say they have learned more than just doing taxes; they have learned things like customer service. Though they say it can be boring, it is also pretty simple to do the taxes after learning what all the different forms mean.

“Customer service. How to do the different forms. You think it’s just one thing, but it’s all these different little things,” Genesis Pineiro, senior, explained.

Additionally, students who don’t want to tax prep also help with advertising and administrative tasks.

“This program would not be successful without the countless hours of commitment and dedication the students put in to help serve the Ferrum College community and the surrounding areas,” Wallace said.

Wallace conducted a formal signing on Feb. 25, for the continuation of the partnership between STEP and the college, and it seems the service is in high demand.

“We are getting requests from the community to expand the program and provide the service in community centers. We just need to protect the super woman over here who is splitting herself into 3000 pieces, but I am grateful,” said Mirta Martin, interim president.

Kristy Pickeral, interim executive director os STEP said the relationship helps many families.

“It saves them about $250 in tax preparation fees,” Pickeral said. “This gets them all the tax credits that they deserve and can utilize to make their lives better.”