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Helping with your taxes
GSU, IRS offer free preparation for some taxpayers
Gregory Espy, left, junior Georgia Southern student from Suwanee, looks on as Chris Fly, Georgia Southern graduate student, Duluth, volunteer with the VITA program, helps with Espy's tax preparation. - photo by JULIE LAVENDER/staff

Free income tax preparation and e–file is now available for taxpayers with a household income of $60,000 or less through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

The School of Accountancy at Georgia Southern University’s Parker College of Business and the IRS have partnered to bring the assistance program to Bulloch County. All tax returns are prepared and reviewed by accounting students and faculty who are IRS certified. 

IRS certified volunteers will prepare Federal and Georgia Income Tax returns during established sessions and the service is offered on a first come, first served basis. 

Dates of the sessions are available now through April 6 on these days: Mondays: 1-4 p.m. and Wednesdays 3-6 p.m. Saturday sessions are also available from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Feb. 22, March 7 and 28 and April 4. 

This is the first time the experiential learning class is offered at Georgia Southern for course credit. Officials see the program as beneficial for both students and tax payers.

“Students are able to get real-world, tax preparation experience and learn to use tax preparation software,” said Gloria Stuart, lecturer in the School of Accountancy and a certified public accountant. They’re also able to develop their soft skills and learn to work in a team setting. All of these skills will benefit them as they enter the workforce.”

Chris Fly, a Georgia Southern graduate student from Duluth, said he believes the program is a huge benefit to students. Fly, who had just assisted Georgia Southern student Gregory Espy, a junior from Suwanee, said, “Interacting with real people as opposed to reading in a textbook is completely different.” 

Espy, one of many Georgia Southern students who have already taken advantage of the opportunity, said, “It’s a free, accessible resource that’s made available to help the community. It’s good for first-time tax filers and people who don’t know that much about filing. It was a great experience.” 

Most of the students serving as volunteers plan to pursue a career in tax accounting. Katherine Wagner, Marietta, and Glenn Carlson, Richmond Hill, manned the table to check in potential clients and both plan to pursue the tax field. 

“It’s great to get some practice and give back to the community at the same time,” said Wagner. “Doing tax preparation, growing into reviewing skills –it’s a great opportunity.”

Carlson added, “School teaches you a foundation, but it’s more abstract until you can actually do it. I’m big into volunteering. I like the feeling of helping people, so it’s been a fulfilling experience.” 

No sessions will be offered during Georgia Southern University’s spring break, March 16-20. 

All sessions are held at the City Center in downtown Statesboro, located at 58 East Main Street, Suite D. Volunteer assistance program signage will be visible to help participants locate the correct room. 

A photo ID and Social Security card are required and a list of additional documents and paperwork needed are listed on the website

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