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Students test their VITA-lity

January 28, 2011

Monmouth College has 40 students hard at work this semester learning how to provide low-income families with help in filing their tax returns this year.  The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a partnership between places like Monmouth College that equip volunteers to give low-income families access to commercial tax software, help from knowledgeable individuals, and the chance to file their taxes online for free.

This is the twelfth year of the program, and it promises to provide an even better service than before. This year, John White, the intercultural outreach coordinator at the 1st Street Armoury Community Center, will be volunteering as a Spanish translator at the Warren County Library; and Teresa Schryver from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will be at all the sites to help parents of college students complete their FAFSA, which helps determine what financial aid is received.

To Judy Peterson, who teaches the Citizenship class at Monmouth that includes the VITA program, this training and volunteer opportunity is invaluable.

 “We’re an educational institution, and not only are we teaching life-long skills, we’re teaching students how to interact with other people” she says Peterson, “We want to encourage students to think and make their voices heard on how we as citizens should be taxing the nation.”

A portion of the students are taking the 2 credit VITA course until April, while the rest of the students take the VITA course as a part of an optional Citizenship class required to be taken by seniors.

Judy Peterson says the purpose of the VITA program is twofold — “to provide a service to the community, and to educate the students about taxes and citizenship.”

The students must attend five three hour workshops at night to learn about tax law, practice the software they will use and prepare for certification. In order to be certified by the IRS, those taking the course must pass a test before going out into the community. If they pass, students will serve seven times at the different locations. Last year, the students prepared more than 1,000 returns for the first time.

The program will provide their services at several different locations in both Monmouth and Galesburg.

For more information about what to bring and the different locations, visit or call 309-457-2160.

Assistant Online Manager

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