VITA deals with reality
Published: Monday, March 16, 2009
Updated: Monday, March 16, 2009 13:03
For the past 18 years, Baruch College has been home to one of the national locations of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA is an IRS-sponsored program that helps people all over the country prepare their taxes for filing free of charge.
But aside from crunching numbers this year, volunteers have had to consider effects of the ailing economy when dealing with clients.
"All of a sudden, it seems like everyone has lost their job. The elderly can't find jobs and are barely making it on social security alone," said Hamida Daud, a VITA volunteer and Baruch student.
VITA volunteers have to be aware of sensitive situations that could arise during the collection of information.
"The fact that we have to ask our clients personal questions sometimes creates awkward situations," said Daud. "We have to ask them questions about kids, marriage and sometimes they get really emotional if things aren't working out."
Volunteers who have given their time in previous years have said that it seems that there has been an increase this year of personal family matters.
"At the end of the day, our clients are pretty grateful for the work we do. They know we give a lot of our time to help them," according to an anonymous VITA volunteer.
Baruch is one of the program's largest participants, with over 320 student volunteers this year.
VITA is open to any person who needs tax assistance, not just Baruch students.
Volunteers have met with a diverse array of filers, ranging from Columbia University students to senior citizens. Special locations are available for filers who aren't native English speakers.
VITA accepts walk-ins and no appointments are necessary unless the filer is an international student.
For more information, go to baruch.edu/vita.