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Baker College of Flint, Resource Genesee Partnership is Win-Win for Community, Students

February 05, 2014

Free tax services help needy, students gain IRS training
FLINT, Mich. – Baker College of Flint accounting students will gain valuable, real-world experience by offering free, basic tax preparation services to eligible individuals through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program on four Fridays in February and March.

The VITA program generally offers free tax help to people with household incomes of up to $51,500, dependent upon family size, and who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. The VITA program is coordinated locally by the Genesee County Tax Coalition in partnership with Resource Genesee, a not-for-profit organization that provides services to those in need in Genesee County.

VITA volunteers are required to complete the VITA training program and become IRS certified in income tax return preparation.

IRS facilitated self assistance (FSA) will also be offered at the Baker College site. FSA is a self-service option that provides minimal help for people who can perform most tax preparation tasks themselves, but would benefit from use of a computer, interview-based software and guidance from an IRS-certified volunteer.

The Baker College VITA site will be open Fridays, Feb. 7, 21 and 28 and March 14, though all appointments on Feb. 7 are already filled. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 810.232.6355. The first appointment of each day is at 9 a.m.; the last begins at 2:30 p.m.

“This is a great opportunity for our Baker students and our community,” said Kevin Leffler, CPA, Baker College accounting instructor. “The students will fulfill a need of the underserved in our community and earn valuable IRS-certified volunteer credentials. The project is in line with Baker’s goal of providing real-world experience to students so graduates can provide immediate value to employers.”

IRS-certified volunteers can provide free, basic income tax return preparation and inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

Theresa Clugston of Davison, Mich., is a senior accounting student at Baker College who took advantage of the IRS certification opportunity and is looking forward to volunteering.

“I’m aware of the diverse population in Genesee County and recognize the need for this type of program,” Clugston said. “I am excited to help. The training was thorough, but not too difficult. It’s for people who don’t have extensive knowledge of accounting or tax preparation, but, I still learned things that will be helpful in my profession and personally. I usually do the income tax preparation for my three adult children.”

The Baker College VITA site is located on the Flint campus at 1050 W. Bristol Road. The college is also providing the required computer technology to electronically file tax returns.

Leffler stressed the importance for the individuals to bring organized income and expenditure documentation to their appointments.

Leffler and Marie Munn, financial and tax site coordinator for Resource Genesee and a Baker College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, are the coordinators of the Baker College VITA site.

Munn was a student of Leffler’s and a work-study student for Resource Genesee while at Baker College. She especially liked the VITA program and feels fortunate to be able to continue her involvement with it.

Last year, VITA helped about 1.5 million individuals nationwide prepare and file federal and state income tax returns. This is the first year Baker College of Flint has participated.

For more information about the VITA program, contact Munn at 810.232.6355 or marie@resourcegenesee.org. For information about the Baker College of Flint accounting program, contact the admissions office at 810.766.4000 or jodi.cuneaz@baker.edu.

The Baker College System
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