SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Tax time, especially for lower- and middle-income families, can be stressful and expensive. Slippery Rock University's College of Business, Information and Social Science is once again stepping up to offer free tax assistance to qualified taxpayers by hosting a site for the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.
The VITA Program is offered in conjunction with the IRS and managed by the Center for Community Resources in Butter. The CCR manages VITA offices in Butler, Slippery Rock and new offices in Cranberry and Kittanning.
The Slippery Rock office, which opens Feb. 6 and will involve SRU students, will offer free tax return assistance for individuals, families and senior earning $50,000 or less in 2012.
"It is an excellent program that allows our students to give back to the community and at the same time gain valuable work experience," said Kurt Schimmel, CBIS dean. "I commend our students, the faculty who supervise them and the IRS for this opportunity."
DuWayne Dockter, SRU associate professor in the School of Business, serves as coordinator. The office has been moved from Main Street to SRU's Extended Learning Center at 165 Elm St., Slippery Rock.
The Slippery Rock office will operate Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. until April 15, the deadline for filing federal tax returns.
The program helps student apply what they've learned in the classroom to real-life situations. Several SRU accounting majors will volunteer and complete internships, helping to prepare tax returns, Dockter said.
"In respect to our students, it will give them good internship opportunities, especially for those who may not be able to travel outside the area," Dockter said. "It's good for the University in terms of the outreach to the community.
"Taxpayers who normally wouldn't be able to pay for the service, or wouldn't be able to do it themselves, are able to utilize the service," he said.
Dockter, who joined SRU as a faculty member in 2012, has been a VITA volunteer for 26 years.
Doctker stressed that the tax service is open to anyone who meets the eligibility guidelines, not just Butler County residents. Students, staff members, faculty and individuals in the community and the surrounding area can make use of the service. Those wishing to make use of the service will be pre-screened to ensure they qualify. There are no fees, service charges or loan interest charges because no loans are involved.
"We can't even accept donations," he said.
Dockter, who will staff the Slippery Rock office on Saturdays, has taught in many areas of business, accounting and geography, most recently at Washington State University. He is a licensed certified public accountant in Oregon and has taught accounting since 1973, at the secondary and higher education levels as well as in private-industry.
Taxpayers who need help with their tax can call for an appointment at 724.431.3748 or by visiting: http://www.ccrinfo.org
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