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SFA accounting students offer free tax-preparation services

February 22, 2017 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University accounting students are offering free tax-preparation services to community members at Goodwill in downtown Nacogdoches. Pictured front row from left are graduate accounting students Kaili Crow, of Spring; Jennifer Nicely, of Tomball; Tim Stephenson, of Cedar Park; and Mark McLean, accounting and economics junior from Aledo.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - It's tax season, and Stephen F. Austin State University students enrolled in the Rusche College of Business' Schlief School of Accountancy are performing free tax-preparation services for community members at Goodwill in downtown Nacogdoches.

The school partnered with Goodwill to offer the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Clinic for qualified individuals - those whose annual income is $54,000 or less, people with disabilities and limited English-speaking taxpayers. Students will be providing the tax services from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 3, 24 and 31 and April 7.

Tim Stephenson, Cedar Park accounting graduate student at SFA, is the VITA student coordinator for the clinic.

"It's offline, so people get human interaction and can understand the tax process better," Stephenson said.

Most of the student volunteers are members of Beta Alpha Psi, the professional accounting fraternity, and serve as tax preparers during the clinic.

"Getting experience outside the classroom helps you put together and understand the concepts you learn in class," said Jennifer Nicely, SFA accounting graduate student from Tomball. "You can see that what you're learning has the potential to help others in real life."

Stephenson agrees the clinic provides a valuable community service.

"You talk with people and help them with a task that can be pretty challenging," Stephenson said. "It's a more direct way to help others, and you can see the results of your efforts."

Kacie Czapla, senior lecturer at SFA and clinic supervisor, teaches tax courses and explained that through this endeavor students learn the basics of federal and state income tax preparation and how to interact with clients.

"Students gain real-world experience and help taxpayers file their tax returns," Czapla said. "Students are providing a service to the community while also getting experience."

For information on what to bring to the VITA clinic, visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers.