UMSL student Greg Hutson (seated) reviews a tax return online with fellow students Nicole Chamberlain and Christopher Clarkin. The three are part of the award-winning VITA program at UMSL.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis has received a 2010 Internal Revenue Service VITA award.

This honor is given to the top VITA programs that prepare the most returns in a season. UMSL’s program prepared the third most returns this season with 673 returns filed. Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah prepared 2,177 returns and San Francisco State University prepared 1,063 returns.

Lindell Chew, founder and organizer of the program and senior instructor of marketing at UMSL, said VITA is about serving the community and preparing students.

“To be recognized for this service is truly an honor,” Chew said. “This program provides a win-win service-learning opportunity to UMSL students and the community, and to be honored for our contributions is gratifying.”

In 2009, VITA received the Internal Revenue Service’s National Partnership Award for Outstanding Community Service in the category of Sustained Superior Performance.

For the past 38 years, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program has been offered through the College of Business Administration at UMSL.

Each year, students undergo several weeks of tax preparation training, testing and certification. They are informed of new and updated tax laws, as well as advancements to the software, Tax Wise, which is used for the VITA program.

More than 1,700 business students, alumni and faculty have offered free tax preparation services to low-income taxpayers and senior citizens at several locations throughout the St. Louis area since 1973. VITA is the largest university-based personal income tax service in the region. More than 3,000 tax returns were filed through the program in just the last three years.

“The strength of our program is a core of dedicated coordinators and IRS certified volunteers,” Chew said. “Through the program, our volunteers are able to give back to the community. VITA provides them the opportunity to help those who otherwise would not have the means to prepare their returns.”

VITA is cosponsored by the Gamma Psi Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, UMSL’s Department of Accounting, GECC Tax Coalition and the IRS.

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Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton