Pennsylvania College of Technology students helped hundreds of taxpayers file 2008 federal returns during two months of free tax assistance at area sites, resulting in refunds of more than twice the amount disbursed during the previous season.
According to statistics provided by Phillip D. Landers, site administrator for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and a professor of business administration/accounting at the college, students prepared 375 federal, 380 Pennsylvania and more than 350 local returns for total refunds of $493,268. That amounts to more than double the $238,402 refunded in the 2007 tax season, and a sizeable increase over 2006′s $184,217 total.
The free program, part of Penn College’s outreach for more than 25 years, provides an opportunity for business, accounting and law students to gain valuable experience preparing federal, state and local tax returns for students, employees and community members.
The college has partnered with the Salvation Army and the Internal Revenue Service since the 2006 tax year, which enabled participation in the VITA program. That affiliation facilitated college use of the IRS’ training regimen and promotion initiatives all 15 participating students needed to be certified by the agency as well as the capability for electronic filing.
The VITA program is focused on helping lower-income individuals and families file their tax returns so they can access various provisions, particularly the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Participating students, all enrolled in accounting and other majors within the School of Business and Computer Technologies, were: Jennifer M. Baker, Williamsport (who worked at the Salvation Army site); Ellen J. Berry, Hughesville; Michelle A. Camp, Montoursville; Karen L. Confer, South Williamsport; Bradley A. Dressler Jr., Mount Pleasant Mills; David M. Freezer, Montoursville; Ashley E. Gummo, Tyrone; Andrew N. Kroft, Dover; Leah M. Lubeski, Danville; Jeffrey W. Martz, Williamsport; David J. Pierce, Warren; Tara N. Trupp, Lewisburg; Ashley M. Ward, Canton; Chelsey L. Wayman, Rome; and Hannah M. Yates, Williamsport.
The VITA site at Penn College was open from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday from Feb. 4 to April 9 in a first-floor classroom at the Madigan Library. In addition, Landers and several students traveled to the North Campus near Wellsboro on three Fridays to provide tax assistance. Salvation Army staff (who also operated tax-assistance sites at their downtown Williamsport headquarters and at the Muncy Public Library) arranged appointments, instead of accepting walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.
“There is no question that the appointment process is superior to a “walk-in’ site operation for everyone: the college, the volunteers and the tax clients,” Landers said. “It should be noted that the Penn College site was selected by Pat Healy, senior stakeholder relationship tax consultant of the IRS, as an “outstanding’ relational partner.”
Landers also praised the library staff for providing the campus site, resolving scheduling issues, providing supplies and signage, and answering a multitude of questions from the public.
For more about the School of Business and Computer Technologies, visit online or call 570-327-4517. For general information about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.