NMU’s Business Department and Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting honor society, received a $10,000 donation from JP Morgan Chase and Co. to assist with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), a free tax return preparation service provided through the efforts of Alpha Beta Psi.
The donation was received mid January and was accepted on behalf of Alpha Beta Psi by the club’s adviser, Trent Batchelor, instructor of business. Batchelor spoke of the steps taken to receive the donation.
“We received the donation through equipment and marketing support for the VITA program,” Batchelor said. “I was notified of and applied through a partner at the IRS, for the application to add another site. Last year we had only one site, but with the demand from last year, I decided to add another site to prepare tax returns and that was the alert for the notification. We were one of the few programs growing. With the IRS offices no longer preparing tax returns due to the lack of funding, programs like VITA have increased in importance to bridge the gap from government service to private public services similar to VITA.”
The plan is to spend the donation on the purchase of new programs, designated computers, scanners, paper, printers, pens, staplers and all other necessary goods to perform the services for the community at large. This donation is making tax returns easier for not only the Marquette community, but NMU students in more ways than one, according to batchelor.
“Students are provided the experience-based education, free of charge, that many students lack in the current education system,” Batchelor said. “The students do real tax returns for real people, many students have commented after the experience that VITA was the best class they ever took, even though it is not a course per se, but a volunteer activity. As soon as the equipment gets here to NMU, the students will have use of the equipment (mentioned above) as a direct benefit for years to come.”
Not only does the program offer students real-world application learning and experience, it offers other NMU students and community members the ability to have their taxes prepared at no cost to them by other students who are engaged in the learning process.
Batchelor noted while offering free tax return assistance is the direct benefit provided here, the more important indirect benefit is what the program and donation actually stand for.
“The significance of the donations, public or private, allow tangible benefits for the students enrolled in the College of Business,” Batchelor said. “The growth of scholarship, be it through research, service or other academic pursuits, creates an environment where learning is current, dynamic and solid with real-world application. That, I believe is the significance of the program!”
Senior accounting corporate finance major and Treasurer of the Alpha Beta Psi, Jordyn Ross commented on the emotions the VITA program is experiencing.
“We’re excited about the growth of the operation and the spreaded news and popularity the program is receiving,” Ross said. “With two sites this year instead of one like last, more and more students and community members will have the option of having their taxes done with us instead of someone else.”
With increased student and community participation, Batchelor is looking into furthering the relationship with JP Morgan and the services the group provides.
“The renewal of funding is being arranged for next year as we speak,” Batchelor said. “Our partner is impressed with the amount of returns completed and is looking to sign an agreement for longer term participation in the future.”
The VITA program will be returning to the Peter White Public Library to provide assistance, as well as creating a new site and the Marquette Room in the U.C., making availability and proximity easy for both community and students.
The program is currently running at both locations through April 13, with times from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays and 1 to 4 p.m. on select Saturdays in March.