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VITA tackles ACA difficulties

February 6, 2015

With “Tax Day” quickly approaching, many Americans scramble to prepare last minute tax returns before April 15. Notable changes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) cause filing health insurance to become more challenging.

Starting Feb. 2, Monmouth College, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, will offer computerized federal and state tax preparation and e-filing at no cost to the taxpayers. Monmouth College students and community members alike are encouraged to participate in the free service.

Although Monmouth College has offered the VITA program for 15 previous years, the 2015 tax season challenges both the program’s coordinators and volunteers. Taxpayers must come to their VITA sessions prepared with knowledge of their health insurance coverage for the whole year, including their dependents.
Students serving in the VITA program have been trained rigorously in topics of tax law, ethics and interview skills to prepare for the changes in tax filing.

“The ACA will be a big issue this year for everyone in the United States,” said professor Judy Peterson, coordinator of MC’s VITA program. “There is no history. We feel we are ready, but everyone’s situation will be different. For some, it will be as easy as checking a box; for others, it may be a much more complicated task.”

While the VITA program serves the community and student body, it also exists to provide education and citizenship to the students involved. Senior Daw Baker described her volunteer opportunity with VITA: “This experience is a great one. Everyone has to prepare a tax return if they work and it is good to know the basics. I learned a lot in VITA from doing the actual tax return to dealing with the public.”

Junior Emily Flint noted the real life application of the tax service. She said, “This is my first year of VITA but from what I have seen so far, this is a very community focused program that helps not only many of the Monmouth community members with free tax preparation but also strengthens the students who provide this service with real world experience with tax prep.”

Tax preparation will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Center for Science and Business starting Feb. 2. Sessions will be held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays through the end of the tax season. Weekdays sessions will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through April 15 (except March 9 and March 11). Saturday sessions will be held 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. (except March 7 and March 14). For more information, please visit vita@monmouthcollege.edu.

Julianna Graf
Staff Writer

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