Free Tax Preparation Service Offered by UMass Amherst Students

AMHERST, Mass. - Student volunteers from the University of Massachusetts are offering free tax assistance to local residents at the Hampshire Mall in Hadley and to international students, faculty, and staff from the Five Colleges at the Isenberg School of Management building on the Amherst campus.

The service to residents is available at the mall in the community room near the information desk on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.

Students offer help for international students, faculty, and staff on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Isenberg School of Management. On Tuesdays assistance is available in Room 101; Wednesdays in Room 7; and Thursdays in Room 10. The program will run through April 13.

The final day to file federal and state tax returns this year is April 18, and the student volunteers will be at the Amherst Post Office on University Drive on that date from 5 to 6:30 p.m. to assist last-minute filers.

The students are working in the "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance," or VITA program this year, according to Michael J. Whiteman, visiting associate professor of accounting and information systems, who is coordinating the effort. Most are undergraduate accounting majors who have studied tax law and see VITA as a way to obtain valuable practical experience in the field, Whiteman says. Participating students receive one credit for their work, and students who oversee the project receive two or three credits depending on their level of responsibility, he says.

Whiteman says the Isenberg School of Management''s department of accounting and information systems has offered the VITA program for more than a decade as a way to help the local community and to give students experience dealing with a wide range of issues facing taxpayers and tax professionals.