Saint Xavier University’s (SXU) Graham School of Management (GSM) has made it their business to serve the community. For the second consecutive year, they offered the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to students and community members in need of tax assistance. GSM Dean Asghar Sabbaghi introduced the program in spring of 2016, which stemmed through a motivation of SXU’s Mercy values.
VITA is an IRS program that was created to assist low- and moderate-income taxpayers in filing their annual tax returns free of charge. GSM partnered with Ladder Up, a nonprofit organization based in Chicago that grants whose who earn low-income free financial services through the Tax Assistance Program (TAP).
“The VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 ($27,000 for single taxpayers) or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns,” said Dean Sabbaghi. “Anyone in our community, student or non-student, who qualifies could benefit from this program.”
An essential part to VITA are the volunteers – accounting students who are in the Individual Income Tax course – taught by Professor Don Cyze. Throughout the course, students become IRS certified and must participate in a community service tax program in order to receive credit.
“I consider the VITA program to be valuable experiential learning that would help our students to reinforce their learning,” remarked Dean Sabbaghi on the importance of the student volunteers. “Learning by doing actively engages students in authentic experiences that enable them to discover and experiment with knowledge themselves as a complement to traditional reliance on hearing or reading about the experiences of others.”
Students and community members have flourished as a result of VITA.
“I noticed the VITA program is in the spirit of our University mission in serving others wisely and compassionately,” said Dean Sabbaghi.