St. Bonaventure University accounting students generated $800,000 in tax refunds for 430 lower-income Cattaraugus County residents for the 2014 tax year.
In its 12th year, SBU’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has generated almost $7.2 million in returns for 4,450 Cattaraugus County residents. Volunteers logged 2,000 hours in helping residents prepare their taxes this year, bringing the 12-year total to 21,000 hours.
Cattaraugus County workers must have a family income of $50,000 or less to qualify to use VITA’s services.
The St. Bonaventure VITA site is an innovative, high-volume program that operates on an appointment basis, and has the capacity to prepare over 100 tax returns per week during the tax-filing season. The St. Bonaventure volunteers are trained not only to prepare high quality tax returns, but also to explain the tax return to the taxpayer and to answer the taxpayer’s questions.
Since 2004, the university’s VITA program has brought federal and state income tax benefits to people with low and moderate incomes by providing free income tax preparation and e-filing. The program focuses on workers who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit available to low- and moderate-income workers with earned income.
Accounting majors, alumni, and faculty from St. Bonaventure University volunteer to make the program possible under the leadership of Dr. Susan Anders, professor of accounting and site coordinator for the VITA program. Volunteer tax preparers engage in many hours of training and must pass rigorous IRS certification tests. All volunteer tax preparers are certified at the advanced level or higher.
The St. Bonaventure VITA program operates in partnership with the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services and the United Way of Cattaraugus County, which provide resources for the activity.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #3 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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