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April 24, 2013

UW-Eau Claire VITA continues to extend reach in community; Students prepare over 1,000 tax returns

VITA Volunteers

April 15th has come and gone. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire accounting lecturer Brenda Thalacker and the 52 accounting students who worked under her this tax season can finally catch their breath.

Thalacker is coordinator of the UW-Eau Claire Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), a special program of the Internal Revenue Service and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue that provides free tax-return assistance to low-income individuals and families. From February 4 through April 11, UW-Eau Claire accounting students working under Thalacker’s supervision prepared 1,015 state and federal returns for taxpayers with annual income under $51,000. This was 370 more returns than last year.

“Our student VITA volunteers were amazing this year,” said Thalacker. “We added a third VITA location in Altoona which allowed us to serve more clients. Students responded to this increase in demand by working harder yet still providing the level of professionalism our VITA program is known for.”

In addition, 109 individuals prepared and filed their own 2012 tax returns for free using the VITA kiosks located on the UW-Eau Claire campus in Schneider Hall. This brought the total number of returns processed by the UW-Eau Claire VITA to 1124—383 more returns than last year. The VITA kiosk service, which was developed primarily for students, was available to any taxpayer who had a valid UW-Eau Claire email address and annual income of less than $57,000. The kiosks were sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service with additional funding provided by UW-Eau Claire Academic Affairs/Office of the Provost.

The UW-Eau Claire VITA program has played an important role in the community for more than 20 years.

“VITA gives our students a hands-on experience we can’t replicate in the classroom,” said Thalacker. “By working with actual clients, students enhance their interpersonal communication skills as well as their knowledge of accounting and taxation. They gain all this while providing a valuable service to the community.”

For more information about the UW-Eau Claire VITA, contact Brenda Thalacker, VITA coordinator, UW-Eau Claire Department of Accounting and Finance, or visit www.uwec.edu/COB/departments/accountingfinance/vita.htm.

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