The IRS awards UMSL’s VITA program with two awards last month in Denver. VITA members on hand to accept the awards include (from left, front row) Nicholas Dittman, Sharon Zimmer, Jahnene Nicks, (from left, back row) Greg Geisler, Matthew Finley , Johnathan Feng, Lindell Chew, Brighton Ranney, David Kowalczyk, Matthew Kaiser and Ross Williams.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis has received two 2011 Internal Revenue Service VITA awards.

The awards, which were presented to the Beta Alpha Psi Chapter at UMSL during the national conference last month in Denver, were for prepared returns and volunteer hours.

UMSL’s VITA program has been offered for more than 40 years through the College of Business Administration and prepares returns for seniors citizens and low-income individuals.

Lindell Chew, founder and organizer of the program and senior instructor of marketing at UMSL, said VITA at UMSL is tradition of experiential service learning and a win-win for our volunteers, clients and the community.

“To be recognized for these VITA services, with the four national International Revenue Service Awards during the past several years, is truly an honor and privilege,” Chew said. “The success rest firmly on the shoulder of more than 60 dedicated student and alumni certified volunteer tax preparers and managers each season, as well as and our community and campus partners.”

In 2010, UMSL’s VITA program received an IRS award for prepared returns. In 2009, VITA received the IRS National Partnership Award for Outstanding Community Service in the category of Sustained Superior Performance.

This year, 509 UMSL VITA volunteers put in 1,909 service hours and prepared 1,037 income tax returns.

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. UMSL’s VITA has prepared more than 4,000 tax returns in just the last past four years. It’s sponsored 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