Prospective employers in the accounting field typically anticipate that entry level accountants will have some level of accounting experience, such as an internship, when they apply for a position. However, what if their life situation does not allow for an internship?
At Franklin University, we provide an alternative “real-world” work experience through a program called “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance” (VITA). VITA is an Internal Revenue Service initiative that provides free tax return preparation for taxpayers with incomes below $54,000. Students receive intensive training on individual tax concepts, with rigorous testing on the topics they will address most in the VITA tax preparation process. Through preparation of tax returns for the VITA clients, students gain experience in working with clients directly. They develop soft skills as well as technical proficiency. Most of all, they develop confidence.
Besides the experience and technical knowledge students are gaining, what are other advantages of VITA? At least half the students involved are taking the program for college credit at Franklin. It is also good preparation for taking the Regulations section of the CPA exam. Students can experience the satisfaction of helping clients who cannot afford to have their taxes prepared by a paid preparer.
Many clients express deep appreciation, which then provides the students the satisfaction of providing an important community service.
"I would recommend this course to anyone interested in the accounting field. It would be a good place to start if you have no prior accounting experience and want to know what tax preparation is like compared to auditing, bookkeeping or other aspects of accounting work."
- Damien Anderson
"The experience I received from the VITA program will help me develop in all areas of my professional skills."
- Stephen McCollum II
"All the classes I took throughout these years gave me knowledge about accounting, but this VITA program gave me the chance to apply that knowledge into the field. I would say being a volunteer income tax assistant gave me a great experience. This volunteer experience maximized my strengths, minimized my weaknesses, improved my listening skills, increased my flexibility, and increased my ability to work on a team."
- Afrin Miraj
"I appreciate the opportunity to not only advance in my academics, but to offer help and guidance to those in our community to properly, efficiently and effectively submit their taxes."
- Richard Turski