The tax season is here! Having been IRS certified just a couple of months ago, preparing taxes for real people in the real world at a real time seems further than reality to me. As a freshman, volunteering for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is my biggest accomplishment in the field of my major—accounting.
When I first signed up for VITA, I had little idea how exciting preparing taxes was going to be. I first felt overwhelmed at the thought of preparing taxes for people who will rely on me to get their tax refunds and payments. But then the experiences shared by previous VITA preparers relieved me and prepared me for the most exciting season of the year.
The 12-hour training to volunteer initially appeared like two unusually long days giving me what I assumed would be more information than I could retain. However, I was proven completely wrong. The VITA training went so fast, and what appeared two long days became a matter of a few hours explaining to me the essential steps of preparing taxes and the interesting provision of different case scenarios of applying the training knowledge. The VITA coordinators were very helpful. They helped me figure out the right amounts and guided me though the process.
Signing up for the VITA sites was also a good experience. The spots filled us so quickly and the unfamiliarity of working in a place previously unknown to me was what I was thinking. But all my thoughts faded into happiness as I reached the VITA site for my first shift. It was wonderful to be a part of the VITA team. The atmosphere was a juxtaposition of professional, yet homely. The site manager, quality reviewers and other fellow volunteers created a warm environment. I was immediately given my work desk while they had someone assist me for my first time preparing taxes.
By the time I had my second shift, I was well acquainted with the site. I prepared taxes for six to seven clients that day and felt satisfied with myself. The joy that some of the clients had when then found out they were getting a refund was unparalleled to anything. They looked hopefully as I prepared taxes, some even nervous with the whole process. When the taxes were prepared and reviewed, they would smile and show their appreciation. This not only boosted my confidence in preparing taxes, but also provided me with an inspiration to utilize my accounting knowledge for the benefit of the community.
My real-world experience taught me what I couldn’t have learned in a classroom setting. The responsibility of preparing taxes for real citizens filing with the IRS, the fulfillment of my duties while preparing taxes, the proper ethical code of conduct, behavior towards clients, time management, and commitment towards my shifts.
I will always cherish my experience with VITA. It is my first professional experience and my first accounting accomplishment. It gave me a new perspective about the world of taxation. VITA is one of the programs that I would recommend to every accounting major. I hope to prepare more taxes this season and help more families whose income is under $58,000.