This is the 45th season Murray State University (MSU) has participated in the annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program hosted by the MSU Accounting Department and Beta Alpha Psi. This Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sponsored program offers the Murray community free tax preparation for low to moderate income and elderly taxpayers. The United Way of Murray-Calloway County partners with MSU expanding our efforts in the community. Each year five tax preparation sessions are offered on the MSU campus.
The VITA program is organized and ran by MSU student volunteers that graciously give their time to support this amazing program. VITA offers several positions in which student volunteers may be involved. Greeters welcome the client, explain the process, assist in completing required documentation, and then introduce the taxpayer to the Interviewer. Interviewers evaluate client documentation and complete the required intake questionnaire. Working together, two student volunteers prepare every return based on their level of certification. A Reviewer then reviews the return prior to meeting with the client for approval and efiling on their behalf. Experienced VITA volunteers may be appointed Site Coordinators which are readily available at each session to assist and answer any questions volunteers or taxpayers may have.
Student Site Coordinators additionally assist with advertising, coordinating volunteer positions and hours, compiling and submitting completed volunteer certification documentation, and ongoing organization of operations. Beta Alpha Psi, the Accounting Society, along with Accounting Faculty all participate in recruiting and encouraging students to volunteer.
To become a volunteer, students must meet IRS certification requirements. MSU offers two onsite training sessions with online training also available for students unable to attend. Regardless of position, all volunteers complete ethics training and must pass the Volunteer Standards of Conduct Exam and Intake/Interview and Quality Review Exam. Students may then choose one or more of the Tax Law exams in which tax returns are prepared to the level of certification. Tax Law certifications include Basic, Advanced, and Foreign. Student volunteers also receive training on TaxSlayer Pro software used to generate returns.
VITA offers students hands on tax preparation skills with certifications along with public experience through working with actual clients in a professional style setting. Professionalism and ethical behavior is emphasized along with the importance of community service outreach creating invaluable tools for each student’s career.
Respecting all COVID restrictions, our process will be modified to ensure a safe environment for all volunteers