The Grace College School of Business, Winona Lake, Ind., prepares for its eleventh year of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The program, which provides free tax preparation to the elderly, disabled, and lower-income individuals filing a basic tax return, will run Monday, Jan. 27 through the end of March.
Since 2010, the William P. Gordon Institute for Enterprise Development at the Grace College School of Business and United Way of Kosciusko County have sponsored the IRS-endorsed VITA program in our county. The program has brought $2.6 million in refunds to Kosciusko County residents since its inception.
“We do this first and foremost to help the community. VITA provides a valuable service to individual families in Kosciusko County, and it funnels that money back into our local economy,” said Dr. Al Grossnickle, associate professor of business at Grace College and director of the William P. Gordon Institute of Enterprise Development.
Volunteers, including Grace College business students and professors and certified public accountants (CPAs), make the service possible in Kosciusko County.
“Last year we had approximately 65 volunteers, and we filed nearly 350 tax returns. We could not do it without our volunteers,” said Grossnickle.
When Grossnickle took over the program in 2012, he saw a unique opportunity for students in the Federal Income Tax class to put their learning into practice. Each student enrolled in the course is now required to volunteer with VITA for 20 hours. Additionally, all business students are able to earn applied learning credits through volunteering. Overall, the VITA program has proven to be a prime learning experience for student volunteers.
“I participate in the VITA tax program because it is a wonderful opportunity for me to use the skills I have acquired in my field of study to serve the people in my community,” said Gracie Long, second-year VITA volunteer and student leadership team head. “It has taught me the importance of adaptability, organization, and gracious communication, which will be fundamental to my future endeavors,” Long added.
VITA appointments can be made via phone call at 574-372-5160. Leave a voicemail, and a VITA volunteer will return the call. Appointments can also be made via email at email@example.com. Appointments can be scheduled for Monday through Thursday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center, 610 Wooster Rd., Winona Lake, Ind., and Saturdays 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Ivy Tech, 2545 Silveus Crossing, Warsaw, Ind.