Tax season ends April 18. More than 20 BMCC students — IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers — are doing their part to help hundreds of citizens to meet this deadline.
One BMCC tax preparer, Accounting major Vera Lipcova, enjoys delivering good news to her clients. “The best part is telling people they’ll get a little money back from their return," she says, "so they can afford to buy something they need and have been putting off.”
To earn the IRS certification that enabled her to provide this service, Lipcova and other BMCC students took part in a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) training at BMCC over January’s Winter Break.
“For me it all started when I took a taxation class through the Accounting Department at BMCC in Fall 2016, and I realized I really enjoy learning how to do taxes,” says Lipcova.
The January VITA training was presented by the BMCC Accounting Department and the Food Bank for New York City. It covered state and federal tax law as well as introducing students to IRS filing software, says Joel Barker, Professor of Accounting and a coordinator of the VITA program at BMCC, along with Accounting Professor Angela Jervis. Together, they teach in the program with their colleagues Accounting Professors Sharon Brickman and Barry Cooper.
“The VITA training is an opportunity for students to help their communities with a very specialized skill,” says Barker. “Not only accounting students but business management, nursing, computer science, health education and other students took part in the VITA program this year.”
The Food Bank places BMCC students who pass the IRS certification exam at their 16 tax preparation sites in all five boroughs of New York City. Lipcova, who was placed in the FOod Bank's East Harlem site, wants to transfer to Hunter College and major in accounting after she graduates from BMCC. She also plans to sign up for the VITA program during next year’s tax season. In the meantime, she has registered for a class at BMCC in taxation for business entities. “I’m pursuing the field of taxation further,” she says.
“I believe the most rewarding thing our students gain is the opportunity to actually prepare tax returns, while utilizing the knowledge gained from the workshops they’ve taken in trainings at BMCC,” says Barker. “It opens doors to them, such as giving back to their communities, improving their communication skills and employment opportunities.”