WC’s Free Tax Prep Site Completes 100th Return

March 6, 2019

IRS-Approved VITA Site Has Saved Residents $20,000 So Far This Tax Season

With more than a month remaining in the 2019 tax season, Wilmington College’s students eclipsed the 100 milestone Tuesday night (March 5) before they take off next week for Spring Break.

Since late January, they have counseled, prepared and filed 103 tax returns. They are well on the way to matching or exceeding last year’s 150 completed returns by April 15. The students compared 82 in 2017, the inaugural year of this community service and hands-on learning experience.

PICTURED: From the left, WC students Liz Renner and Shelbi Long assist Wilmington resident Dick Mitchner with his tax return on Tuesday evening. Later that night, WC’s VITA site completed its 100th return thus far this tax season.

Allen Beatty, assistant professor of accounting and an IRS Enrolled Agent/site manager, said Wilmington College students are performing a valuable service for the community while gaining practical experience. Indeed, he estimates they’ve saved residents $20,000 in filing cots so far this year.

“I can’t express enough the gratitude I have for these students,” he said, noting he’s learned that many college sites are offering significantly scaled down services when compared to Wilmington College’s operation, which has enhanced the complexity of its services offered this year.

“Our students do it purely for learning and providing a service to our community!”

The IRS-certified, volunteer tax preparers are offering this service as part of the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). Wilmington College is a VITA site that provides tax help to persons of low and moderate income who, generally, make less than $55,000, as well as taxpayers with disabilities or with limited English-speaking skills.

The IRS, again this year, awarded WC’s service a perfect 100 percent rating. Also, senior Kaitlyn Martin is a newly certified site coordinator, joining junior Shelbi Long as the student leaders of the VITA site.

Beatty said the students’ experience far exceeds simply the numbers placed on tax returns.

“They have learned so much — not just in preparation, but in many other ways,” he said. “Our students have learned to be compassionate with persons with various disabilities, those returning to society after incarceration, taxpayers who are anxious in obtaining refunds and those who are distraught upon learning they owe the IRS.”

WC’s VITA site will be closed during the College’s Spring Break, March 13-15, and will reopen with normal hours of operation on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 5 to 8 p.m. Sessions are held in WC’s Center for the Sciences and Agriculture, corner of College and Elm streets.

The students provide basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. This service generally includes basic returns of wage earners (W-2) and retirees (1099-R and Social Security), who might also have such additional forms of income as interest, dividends (1099-INT, DIV) and unemployment (1099-G).

Preparation of a limited amount of itemized returns (Schedule A with home mortgage, interest, charitable contributions, medical expenses, etc.) also is available, along with those featuring such popular credits as Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit, Retirement Savers Credit, etc. In addition, this year, the students are able to work with taxpayers claiming capital gains and losses, and those with self-employment income, in addition to being able to do limited small business returns

Those interested in scheduling an appointment should contact Long at 567.217.1008 or via email at shelbi.i.long@wilmington.edu.