Monmouth College

Monmouth College Department of Accounting.
Contact Info:
Judy Peterson, Chair
McMichael Academic
309-457-2365
vita@monmouthcollege.edu

 

Title Graphic. VITA - In the News
MC's VITA program reports record number of returns

Release Date: May 1, 2014

Monmouth College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) assisted on a record number of 512 federal returns this year, according to accounting professor Judy Peterson, who directs the program, along with department colleague Connie Mersch.

“I was concerned that our numbers would be much lower because of our new location,” said Peterson. “We only had one location this year (down from three in previous years). But they found us, and they loved our new digs” in the college’s new Center for Science and Business.

The accounting wing of the recently completed building features seven state-of-the-art breakout rooms, specially designed to allow VITA preparers and clients privacy and comfort in completing returns. Peterson said that traffic “flowed much better because of the new environment.”

Taxpayers informed VITA personnel that a basic tax return (including a state return) with no other schedules would have cost $152 through a commercial preparer..

“Multiplying our federal return count times $152, we would like to believe we helped save the community at least $77,824,” said Peterson, who noted that 30 Monmouth students participated in VITA this year.

This was the 15th year that Monmouth College has offered free computerized tax preparation and e-filing. Both Peterson and Mersch are certified public accountants with previous experience in the corporate sector.



MC to again offer free tax preparation through VITA

Release Date: January 18, 2013

For the 14th year, Monmouth College will offer computerized tax preparation and e-filing (federal and state) at no cost to the taxpayer, beginning in February. This service is provided in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

Professor Judy Peterson, coordinator of MC’s program, said VITA has a two-fold purpose: service and education for the community, and citizenship and education for the students. She also noted an important change that will affect the early stages of this year’s program.

“Only those taxpayers earning $51,000 or less may come the first weeks (Feb. 2 – 16),” she said. “Others with higher incomes may start coming on Feb. 18. We will let you know if your return items are within the parameters of the VITA program, as our student volunteers do not prepare complicated returns.”

All ages of taxpayers are served, from students through retirees. Taxpayers who use the VITA sites are strongly encouraged to e-file, as they can expect quicker response to their filings, and the IRS can reduce its processing costs.

Assistant professor of accounting Connie Mersch will assist Peterson in coordinating the program. Mersch, who joined MC’s faculty in 2011, spent several years working in the tax departments of various distinguished companies.

Beginning Feb. 2, the tax preparation will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at two locations: the lower level of the college’s Wallace Hall and the Warren County Public Library. The library will be staffed by VITA volunteers on four Saturdays: Feb. 9, Feb. 23, March 23 and April 13, all from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All other sessions will be conducted at the college. Weekdays sessions will be held 4 – 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through April 15 (except March 11, March 13 and April 1) and two Thursdays (Feb. 7 and 14). Saturday sessions at the college will be held 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Feb. 2, Feb. 16, March 2 and April 6.


VITA returns for 13th year

Release Date: January 17, 2012

Although a string of high temperatures and a lack of snow have made it hard to recognize the season, one things doesn’t change this time of year – it’s tax season.

Once again, Monmouth College is here to help. For the 13th straight year, the college is offering computerized tax preparation and e-filing (federal and state) at no cost to the taxpayer. This service is provided in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

Professor Judy Peterson, coordinator of MC’s program, said VITA has a two-fold purpose: service and education for the community, and citizenship and education for the students. The service is aimed at low- to middle-income taxpayers (generally $50,000 or less) who cannot afford professional assistance and need assistance in the preparation of their return. All ages of taxpayers are served, from students through retirees. Taxpayers who use the VITA sites are strongly encouraged to e-file, as they can expect quicker response to their filings, and the IRS can reduce its processing costs.

Assistant professor of accounting Connie Mersch will assist Peterson in coordinating the program. Mersch, who joined MC’s faculty this academic year, spent several years working in the tax departments of various distinguished companies.

“I am excited to be working with Connie in this venture, as she is very knowledgeable, focused and professional,” said Peterson.

Beginning Feb. 6, the tax preparation will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at two locations: the basement of the college’s Wallace Hall and the Warren County Public Library. The library will be staffed by VITA volunteers on three days: Feb. 18, March 3 and March 31, all from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The remaining sessions will be conducted at the college. Weekdays sessions are 4 – 7 p.m. and Saturday sessions are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The weekdays include every Monday and Wednesday in February and March (except March 12 and March 14); two Thursdays (Feb. 9 and 16); and the Mondays and Wednesdays in April through April 16. The Saturday sessions at the college will be Feb. 11, Feb. 25, March 24 and April 14.

“We ask that taxpayers who have higher incomes but have tax returns within the scope of the VITA program please wait until after our first two busy weeks in February to come to our sites, as the program is aimed at those with lower incomes,” said Peterson. “Nevertheless, we welcome higher incomes as the learning process for the students in this program continues throughout the tax season.”

She continued, “We will be able to prepare 1040, 1040A and 1040 inclusive of itemized deductions. We will not prepare complicated returns. If your return is outside of our scope, we will let you know that we are not able to assist you.”

During last year’s tax season, Monmouth’s VITA volunteers prepared or assisted with 510 federal and 509 state returns. Since computerized filing began on campus in 2000, the program has experienced an increase of nearly 450 percent for returns prepared/assisted and an increase of more than 1,000 percent for e-filed returns.

“A great deal of the filers at our VITA sites are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),” reported Peterson. “This credit is a financial boost for working people in a recovering economy. EITC is one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty programs, annually lifting 6.6 million people out of poverty; half of these are children.”

Nationwide, she said, the average credit was $2,100, but it can be as much as $5,751 depending on the worker’s income, marital status and whether there are children.

Peterson said that year after year, surveys indicate that taxpayers would use the service again and also recommend a friend.

“We are certainly pleased with the success of this program and the value to both the students and the surrounding communities,” said Peterson.

In order to receive income tax assistance, individuals should bring the following to a VITA session:

• Identification (such as a driver’s license).

• Social Security cards for each person listed on the return (includes taxpayer, spouse and all dependents).

• All documentation on income such as W-2s and 1099s.

• Last year’s return. This is necessary if the taxpayer itemized last year and now has a state refund to be added back to income, or is receiving a partially taxed annuity. This is also helpful to ensure income and deductions taken in a previous year are revisited for inclusion in the current year.

• Voided check (no deposit slips) if the taxpayer wishes direct deposit of the refund.

Taxpayers are reminded that both spouses must be present if they are going to e-file a joint return.

More details on what to bring to a VITA session and other helpful information can be found at department.monm.edu/accounting/vita.htm. Specific questions may be asked by e-mailing Mersch or Peterson at vita@monm.edu.


VITA a vital Program

Release Date: January 17, 2011

Monmouth College, in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service, will offer free computerized tax preparation and e-filing, beginning Feb. 2.

This is the 12th consecutive year that Monmouth students have participated in the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program under the supervision of MC accounting professor Judy Peterson. VITA is aimed primarily at low- to middle-income taxpayers with an income of $50,000 or less. All ages of taxpayers are served, from students through retirees.

The program has grown in each of the past 11 years, topping 1,000 returns prepared for the first time last year. That’s due in part to the continued improvement in the service, which has included additional sites and new software.

This year’s additions include a translator and an opportunity for parents with college-bound students to receive help on their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

“We will have a Spanish translator at our Warren County Public Library site,” said Peterson, who now coordinates the college’s program along with department colleague Patrick Montgomery. “John White, the intercultural outreach coordinator at the Armoury, has volunteered to do this. Also, Teresa Schryver from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will be at each of our locations to help community members complete their FAFSA, which is the important first step in the financial aid process.”

More information about FAFSA assistance is available from Schryver at tschryver@isac.org or 309-351-4754.

Peterson said the college’s VITA program has a twofold purpose – “service and education for the community, and citizenship and education for the students.”

“Everyone who comes to the VITA sites is strongly encouraged to e-file,” she added. “Taxpayers can expect quicker response to their filings, and the IRS can reduce its processing costs.”

Tax preparation is offered on a first-come, first-served basis at three locations: Monmouth College (lower level of Wallace Hall, the college’s main building); the Warren County Public Library (60 Public Square, Monmouth); and the Galesburg Public Library (40 E. Simmons Street). The library locations are available on select Saturdays only from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students will be at the Monmouth library on Feb. 12, Feb. 26, March 26, April 9 and April 16 and at the Galesburg library on Feb. 5, Feb. 19, March 19 and April 2.

“If you have a disability that prevents you from climbing stairs, please visit the two library locations, which are wheelchair accessible,” advised Peterson.

At Monmouth College, VITA volunteers will be available Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., starting Feb. 2. For the first two weeks, the college site will also be open on Thursdays at the same time. VITA will not be in session during the college’s spring break (March 4-13). The final day of service on the college campus will be April 13 .

In order to receive income tax assistance, individuals need to bring several documents with them to VITA sessions. A complete list is available at department.monm.edu/accounting/vita.htm or by calling 309-457-2160. Questions can also be sent by e-mail to vita@monm.edu.

“We ask that taxpayers who have higher incomes but have tax returns within the scope of the VITA program to please wait until after our first two busy weeks in February to come to our sites, as the program is aimed at those with lower incomes,” said Peterson. “Nevertheless, we welcome higher incomes as the learning process for the students in this program continues throughout the tax season. We also ask that taxpayers who have unusual or complicated returns go to a paid tax preparer of their choice.”

The service continues to be a popular one for Monmouth students as, for the second straight year, 40 have volunteered for the program.

“These students will be completing IRS certification requirements this month after attending workshops to study new tax laws and to orient them to the commercial software and internal control processes used,” said Peterson.

The Monmouth program will once again be using TaxWise Online, rather than TaxWise Desktop, which speeds up the process while further ensuring the integrity of the data.

Peterson is also enthusiastic about the success of the college’s new citizenship course, “Taxes and the Citizenry,” which will be in its fourth iteration this spring. In addition to participating in VITA, students in the course will research and discuss tax policy issues and submit a paper as well as give an oral presentation.

“I don’t see many colleges and universities even offering a VITA program, and to have it integrated in this manner with policy issues is truly one of a kind,” she said. “Surveys indicate that taxpayers would use our services again and also recommend a friend. We are certainly pleased with the success of this program and the value to both the students and the surrounding communities.”



MC's VITA program returns on Feb. 1


Release Date: February 1, 2010 Monmouth College will offer free computerized tax preparation and e-filing, beginning Feb. 1. This service is provided in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

This is the 11th consecutive year that Monmouth students have participated in the program, which is aimed primarily at low- to middle-income taxpayers with an income of $50,000 or less. All ages of taxpayers are served, from students through retirees.

“Everyone who comes to the VITA sites is strongly encouraged to e-file,” said MC accounting professor Judy Peterson, co-coordinator of the college’s program. “Taxpayers can expect quicker response to their filings, and the IRS can reduce its processing costs.”

Peterson added the VITA program has a two-fold purpose – “service and education for the community, and citizenship and education for the students.”

Tax preparation is offered on a first-come, first-served basis at three locations: Monmouth College (lower level of Wallace Hall, the college’s main building – this is a new location this year); the Warren County Public Library (60 Public Square, Monmouth); and the Galesburg Public Library (40 E. Simmons Street). The library locations are available on select Saturdays only from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students will be at the Monmouth library on Feb. 13, Feb. 27 and March 27 and at the Galesburg library on Feb. 6, Feb. 20, March 20 and April 10.

At Monmouth College, VITA volunteers will be available Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., starting Feb. 1. For the first two weeks, the college site will also be open on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. VITA will not be in session during the college’s spring and Easter breaks. The final day of service will be April 14 on the college campus.

In order to receive income tax assistance, individuals need to be aware of several items they must bring with them to VITA sessions. A complete list is available at department.monm.edu/accounting/vita.htm or by calling 309-457-2160.

“We ask that taxpayers who have higher incomes but have tax returns within the scope of the VITA program please wait until after our first two busy weeks in February to come to our sites, as the program is aimed at those with lower incomes,” said Peterson. “Nevertheless, we welcome higher incomes as the learning process for the students in this program continues throughout the tax season. We also ask that taxpayers who have unusual or complicated returns go to a paid tax preparer of their choice.”

More Monmouth students than ever have signed up for the program, as 40 students will be participating, up from 28 a year ago.

“These students will be completing IRS certification requirements this month after attending workshops to study new tax laws and to orient them to the commercial software and internal control processes used,” said Peterson, who shares her coordinating duties with accounting faculty colleague Patrick Montgomery.

Two upper-level accounting students, Dallas Johnson of Galesburg and Laura Greenwood of Milan, accompanied Peterson and Montgomery to IRS training and will assist in the coordination of the program.

For the first time, the Monmouth program will be using TaxWise Online, rather than TaxWise Desktop, which will speed up the process while further ensuring the integrity of the data.

“Although we never had a breach of security and our data was encrypted, we no longer will have taxpayer information on our laptops,” said Peterson. “This is a major step forward, and Prof. Montgomery provided the major push to get this going.”

Peterson is also excited about the success of the college’s new citizenship course, “Taxes and the Citizenry,” which will be in its third iteration this spring. In addition to participating in VITA, students in the course will research and discuss tax policy issues and submit a paper as well as give an oral presentation.

“I don’t see many colleges and universities even having a VITA program, and to have it integrated in this manner with policy issues is truly one of a kind,” she said.

Last year, Monmouth’s VITA program prepared or assisted with 465 federal and 467 state returns. Since the computerized service began in 2000, the program has experienced an increase of nearly 400 percent for returns prepared/assisted and an increase of nearly 900 percent for e-filed returns.

Additionally, said Peterson, “Surveys indicate that taxpayers would use our services again and also recommend a friend. We are certainly pleased with the success of this program and the value to both the students and the surrounding communities.”


Cha-ching! Thousands of dollars return to region thanks to MC’s VITA

Release Date: May 6, 2009

In the academic world, it can sometimes be difficult to place a value on a course or an experience.

That is not the case, however, with Monmouth College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. According to the program’s coordinator, accounting professor Judy Peterson, nearly half a million dollars has flowed back to western Illinois through federal and state refunds as a result of VITA’s efforts. When the savings from the free program are added in, the region gained more than $500,000.

“Our three sites, operating from Feb. 2 to April 15, have returned $467, 813 in federal refunds and $26, 691 in state refunds to our communities, for a total of $494,504,” noted Peterson in her annual report on the popular program.

The professor also estimated that nearly $45,000 in potential tax preparation fees was saved, freeing that money for the purchase of such items as food, clothing, shelter and education.

Peterson and her 30 student volunteers prepared a program-record 938 returns, up 4 percent from a year ago and nearly five times the number that were prepared in VITA’s first year on campus in 2000.

Of course, the program does have its share of invaluable aspects as well. After receiving detailed instruction on income tax preparation, the students gain the real-world experience of working individually with actual taxpayers.

“The students work multiple sessions so that they have the opportunity to experience as many issues as possible,” said Peterson. “It is an extraordinary experience for them.”



Monmouth’s VITA program helps boost local economy

Release Date: January 19, 2009

Monmouth College will offer computerized tax preparation and e-filing, beginning Feb. 2. This service is provided in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

This is the tenth consecutive year that Monmouth students have participated in the program, which is aimed primarily at low- to middle-income taxpayers with an income of $40,000 or less. All ages of taxpayers are served, from students through retirees.

MC accounting professor Judy Peterson, co-coordinator of the college’s program, said that it has a two-fold purpose – “service and education for the community, and citizenship and education for the students.”

Tax preparation is offered on a first-come, first-served basis at three locations: Monmouth College (Room 308 of McMichael Academic – one building east of the college’s main building, Wallace Hall); the Warren County Public Library (60 Public Square, Monmouth); and the Galesburg Public Library (40 E. Simmons Street). The library locations are available on Saturdays only, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in Galesburg and from 1 to 4 p.m. in Monmouth.

At Monmouth College, VITA volunteers will be available Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., starting Feb. 2. For the first two weeks, the college site will also be open on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. VITA will not be in session during the college’s spring and Easter breaks. The final day of service will be April 15 on the college campus.

“Everyone who comes to the site is strongly encouraged to e-file,” said Peterson. “Taxpayers can expect quicker response to their filings, and the IRS can reduce its processing costs.”

Patrick Montgomery, who joined the accounting department faculty last fall, will share the coordinating duties with Peterson.

“He comes highly qualified, as he started a successful VITA program at his previous institution,” said Peterson.

Two upper-level accounting students, seniors Kari Sippel of Peoria and Justine Woiwode of Pekin, accompanied Peterson and Montgomery last month for training at the Internal Revenue Service in Springfield and will be assisting in the coordination of the program.

The 28 Monmouth students enrolled in the program will be completing IRS certification requirements this month after attending workshops to study new tax laws and to orient them to the commercial software and internal control processes used.

Peterson is excited about the success of the college’s new citizenship course “Taxes and the Citizenry,” which debuted last spring. It incorporates the tax preparation program, and 19 of the 28 VITA students are enrolled in the course this spring. Besides participating in VITA, students will research and discuss tax policy issues and submit a paper as well as give an oral presentation.

“I don’t see many colleges and universities even having a VITA program, and to have it integrated in this manner with policy issues is truly one of a kind,” she said.

Last year Monmouth’s VITA program prepared or assisted with 450 federal and 448 state returns. This represented a 9 percent increase over the previous year. E-filed returns increased by 14 percent over the previous year. Since the computerized service began in 2000, the program has experienced an increase of nearly 400 percent for prepared returns and an increase of nearly 800 percent for e-filed returns. On a scale of 1 to 5, last year’s taxpayers rated their overall satisfaction as 4.89, and 100 percent of the taxpayers said they would use the college service again and also recommend it to a friend.

“What is new for this year is the real estate tax deduction, even if you are not itemizing,” said Peterson. “It is equal to the amount of real estate taxes paid up to $500 for single filers and $1,000 for joint filers. It is considered an additional standard deduction. Another new item is the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit. This is a refundable credit equal to 10 percent of the purchase of a home (up to $7,500) for first-time homebuyers.”

However, she noted, taxpayers receiving this tax credit will be required to repay any amount received under this new law back to the government over 15 years, in equal installments.

Peterson also provided information on the Recovery Rebate Credit last year, also known as the Economic Stimulus Payment (ESP). Most taxpayers qualified for it last year but, “If you did not receive the payment, or did not receive the full amount, you may qualify based on this year’s income and personal circumstances. All taxpayers who file this year must know the amount of ESP they received in 2008 in order to properly calculate the credit.”

For questions regarding this service, call Peterson at 309-457-2365 or visit the VITA Web site at department.monm.edu/accounting/vita.htm. The complete list of items that taxpayers need to bring and other useful information is available there.
 


Release Date: June 12, 2008

For many individuals, tax season is certainly taxing. The stressful time of meeting the April 15 deadline is often magnified by a failure to find the exact information that the taxpayer needs to file correctly.

Since its inception in 2000, Monmouth College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has been doing its best to make tax season a kinder, gentler time, not to mention a more profitable one. For starters, VITA does not charge for its services, and it prepared 451 free returns this year, a 9 percent increase from its record total last year. Those returns pumped $376,000 in tax refunds back into the local economy, and an additional $42,180 was saved in tax preparation funds.

But the popular service also relieves stress through its people. In its annual satisfaction survey, which drew results from 235 taxpayers, the Monmouth program scored its highest marks in the area of customer courtesy, as 94 percent of the respondents gave their volunteer the highest possible marks. One hundred percent of the respondents said they would use the program again and would recommend it to a friend needing assistance. The latter number is consistent with the survey’s results for how individuals learned about VITA, as "word of mouth" scored highest, followed by previous use and newspaper coverage.

"Everyone was polite and very kind," wrote one client. "I really appreciate the help."

"This is a very good thing," wrote another. "The girl who did ours was very friendly and explained everything."

Monmouth College accounting professor Judy Peterson, who has coordinated the program since its inception, added that the survey showed that "the majority of our constituents earn less than $32,000, and those folks are the ones we are trying to target."

The constituents span the spectrum in age, with nearly one-fourth being younger than 25 and another quarter being 60 or older.

VITA is a win-win proposition, because it not only assists area taxpayers, but also provides valuable experience for the students who volunteer.

Those 23 students were also surveyed, and they gave high marks for the program’s classroom portion, which this year counted toward the college’s Citizenship requirement.

"I am pleased with those results, given the Citizenship course’s pilot status this year," said Peterson. "It was better than expected. I would like to work on ways to more thoroughly evaluate students on their readings in the course."

The students clearly enjoy and benefit from the other portion of the course, the hands-on tax preparing experience.

"One reason for having the students do seven sessions is so that they do have the opportunity to experience as many issues as possible," said Peterson. "For the last two years, I ensured that each students experienced the exhilaration of the first two weeks of tax sessions at least once. It is an extraordinary experience for them."


MC’s VITA students to be part of Super Saturday

Release Date: March 19, 2008

MONMOUTH, Ill. — The Internal Revenue Service has designated March 29 as Super Saturday in order to raise awareness about the economic stimulus payment that many Americans will receive starting in May.

Monmouth College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) students will participate in the event, providing free tax assistance at two locations that day. They will be at the Galesburg Public Library, 40 E. Simmons St., from 9-11:30 a.m. and at the Warren County Public Library, 60 Public Square, Monmouth, from 1 to 4 p.m.

In addition to March 29, VITA students will staff the library locations on April 5 and 12 at the same times. Free tax preparation sessions will also be available March 19 and 26 and April 2, 7, 9 and 14, from 4-7 p.m. at Monmouth College’s McMichael Academic Hall, Room 308.

In order to receive the stimulus payment, taxpayers must file a 2007 tax return with a valid Social Security number that indicates at least $3,000 of at least one of the following: 1) earned income; 2) Social Security benefits; 3) certain veterans benefits; 4) nontaxable combat pay.

"For those of you who normally would not need to file, but meet one of the criteria above to receive the stimulus payment, the Monmouth College VITA students have been instructed how to prepare your 2007 tax return," said accounting professor Judy Peterson, who coordinates the program at Monmouth. "If you indicate bank checking or savings information on this return, your stimulus payment will be direct deposited to that account. Otherwise, you will receive a check. In most cases, the payment will equal the amount of tax liability on the tax return, with a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $600 for individual filers and a minimum of $600 and a maximum of $1,200 maximum for joint filers."

For those who have adjusted gross incomes above $75,000 for individual filers and $150,000 for joint filers, the payment will be phased out. Also, those who have a qualifying child will be eligible for an additional $300 per child. Dependents are not eligible for the stimulus payment.

In other VITA news, Peterson said her students are available if a retirement home or assisted living facility would like them to come on site to help seniors prepare their 2007 return. To schedule such an appointment, contact Peterson at 309-457-2365.


Beginning Feb. 2, MC students to offer free tax preparation

Release Date: January 15, 2008

MONMOUTH, Ill. — For the ninth consecutive year, Monmouth College is offering computerized tax preparation and e-filing at no cost to the taxpayer. This service is provided in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

MC accounting professor Judy Peterson, coordinator of the college’s program, said that the program has a two-fold purpose: "service and education for the community, and citizenship and education for the students."

The service is aimed primarily at low- to middle-income taxpayers, generally with an income of $40,000 or less, who cannot afford professional assistance in the preparation of their return. All ages of taxpayers are served, from students through retirees.

"Everyone who comes to the site is strongly encouraged to e-file," said Peterson, who reported that the first date that VITA will be in session is Feb. 2. "Taxpayers can expect quicker response to their filings, and the IRS can reduce its processing costs."

Tax preparation is on a first-come, first-served basis at three locations: Monmouth College (Room 308 of McMichael Academic – one building east of the college’s main building, Wallace Hall); the Warren County Public Library (60 Public Square, Monmouth); and the Galesburg Public Library (40 E. Simmons Street). The library locations are available on Saturdays only, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in Galesburg and from 1 to 4 p.m. in Monmouth.

At Monmouth College, VITA personnel will be available Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., starting Feb. 4. For the first two weeks, the college site will also be open on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. VITA will not be in session during the college’s spring and Easter breaks. The final day of service will be April 14 on the college campus.

"If individuals have a disability that prevents them from climbing stairs, they should visit the library locations, which are wheelchair accessible," said Peterson.

The 25 Monmouth students enrolled in the program will be completing IRS certification requirements in January after attending workshops to study new tax laws and to orient them to the commercial software and internal control processes used. Three upper-level accounting students who have accompanied Peterson for training will assist her in coordinating the program. They are seniors Jennifer Carter of Marseilles, Katrina Anderson of Dow and Kelly Compton of Oneida.

Peterson is excited that 17 of her VITA students are enrolled in a senior capstone course called "Taxes and the Citizenry" course, which fulfills a new citizenship requirement in the college’s curriculum.

"Students in this course, besides participating in VITA, will be researching and discussing tax policy issues and submitting a paper, as well as giving an oral presentation," said Peterson, who gave a presentation on her new course last fall at a national accounting education colloquium in Arizona. "I don’t see many colleges and universities even having a VITA program, and to have it integrated in this manner with policy issues is truly one of a kind."

Another new feature of Monmouth’s VITA program is that a Spanish interpreter will be available on certain dates. The VITA program will also be able to help individuals who do not have a Social Security Number, but need to file a tax return. They will be instructed on preparing Form W7 to obtain an individual tax identification number (ITIN). The form can be prepared and submitted with the individual’s tax return.

"There are not many changes that will affect the individual taxpayer this year," added Peterson. "There are the typical increases in standard deductions, exemptions, tax brackets and earned income credit amounts to account for the effects of inflation. A new item for this year is that the IRS will no longer be using the signature document, Form 8453, for e-filing. E-filers will now be using PIN numbers to electronically sign their returns. Taxpayers, however, will still need to sign Form 8879, so from their point of view, not much has changed."

Last year, Monmouth’s VITA program prepared or assisted with 414 federal and 414 state returns. This represented a 24 percent increase over the previous year. E-filed returns increased by 15 percent. Since the computerized service began in 2000, the program has experienced an increase of nearly 350 percent for returns prepared/assisted and an increase of nearly 700 percent for e-filed returns.

"On a scale of 1 to 5, taxpayers rated their overall satisfaction as 4.90, and 100 percent of the taxpayers said they would use our services again and also recommend a friend," said Peterson. "We are certainly pleased with the success of this program and the value to both the students and the surrounding communities."

For persons seeking a Spanish interpreter, one will be available on the following dates: Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27 and April 2 at the MC location; and Feb. 9, and 23 and March 1 at the Warren County Public Library location.

In order to receive income tax assistance, individuals need to bring several items, including Social Security cards for each person listed on the return, all documentation on income (such as W-2s and 1099s) and last year’s return.

For questions regarding this service, call Peterson at 309-457-2365 or visit the VITA Web site at department.monm.edu/accounting/vita.htm. The complete list of items that taxpayers need to bring and other useful information is available there.



Tax specialist to speak at Monmouth College

Release Date: January 11, 2008

MONMOUTH, Ill. — Hector Santos, a tax specialist from the Internal Revenue Service, will present a free seminar at Monmouth College on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. in Room 308 of McMichael Academic Hall.

Of particular interest to members of the Hispanic community and other workers not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number, the talk will focus on issues relating to obtaining an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) and responsibilities for filing a tax return. Santos, who is based in Chicago, will also discuss federal tax compliance education regarding taxpayer rights, responsibilities and benefits.

Santos, who is fluent in both Spanish and English, has been working with tax compliance education and ITIN issues since 1996. Together with the Center for Economic Progress, he has conducted more than 100 tax assistance outreaches at churches, schools, banks, community centers and the Mexican Consulate throughout the Chicago area and also in Rockford, Springfield and the Quad Cities.

"My Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) students will be attending Hector’s presentation, but many in the community may find the presentation helpful and enlightening," said MC accounting professor Judy Peterson.



Monmouth’s VITA program delivers many ‘happy returns’

Release Date: May 10, 2007

Image of Monmouth College senior Lee Rometti receives her VITA participation certificate from accounting professor Judy Peterson..

Monmouth College senior Lee Rometti receives her VITA participation certificate from accounting professor Judy Peterson.

MONMOUTH, Ill. — Monmouth College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program continues to grow, according to numbers recorded by accounting professor Judy Peterson, who coordinates the local program.

From a modest start of 94 returns in 2000, VITA helped prepare 414 returns this year, up 81 from a year ago. And, as has been the case throughout the program’s eight-year history, there were many "happy returns," as 100 percent of 237 surveyed taxpayers said they would use the service again and would recommend it to a friend seeking tax assistance.

"We have never received below 100 percent for those two items," said Peterson, who added "the majority of our constituents earn less than $32,000, and those folks are the ones we are trying to target."

Wrote one survey participant, "Thanks for all the time and effort you put into the program. It’s such a wonderful way to give back to the community. I hope someday I will have such an opportunity to give back to others."

The program certainly gives back to the community. From e-files alone, the Internal Revenue Service documented that the program’s three sites returned more than $328,000 in tax refunds to the community. An additional $38,000 was saved in tax preparation funds. Peterson noted that refunds from paper returns were not included in the total, nor were state refunds. With those figures added, the total number of dollars refunded through VITA exceeds half a million.

Besides having a profound impact on Warren and Knox County residents, VITA also serves as a key component of the educational process for Peterson’s students.

"I loved the whole VITA process," wrote one student on her course evaluation. "I like how I had a direct, positive impact on people. It was also a great experience in a professional environment."

Wrote another, "This course is one of my favorite classes out of my college education. I learned and retained more from my VITA experience than any other."

Nineteen of Peterson’s 20 students completed the evaluation, and all were in agreement that the course enhanced their understanding of individual taxes and required them to be an effective communicator. They were also unanimous in ranking the course at the maximum level for overall quality.

"When I took the preparation class this year, I was surprised at how much I remembered from last year," said Lee Rometti, a senior from East Peoria. "This shows that actually participating in an activity allows us to more easily recall it later. I have also found that employers love seeing ‘VITA’ on a résumé. In all my interviews, I have discussed my VITA experience, and interviewers have told me that this shows great qualities in a job candidate including motivation, confidence and a will to go beyond what is required."

Besides current students, the VITA group also included 2006 graduate Brian Siemers, who volunteered to help every Saturday morning at the program’s new location in Galesburg. He logged nearly 40 hours of volunteer service and recommends the experience to all accounting students.

"VITA is a valuable program, and you use tools that you’re going to use everyday in the workplace," said Siemers, who lives in Galesburg and works for National City in Peoria.

When asked why he decided to help, he replied, "I remember how helpful Judy and Frank (Gersich) were in my college education and getting me through the accounting program. Number two, it keeps me sharp for my job. It helps me understand where money is and how it affects people."



Beginning Feb. 1, MC students to offer free tax preparation

Release Date: January 22, 2007

MONMOUTH, Ill. — For the eighth consecutive year, Monmouth College is offering computerized tax preparation and e-filing at no cost to the taxpayer.

This service is provided in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program under its Stakeholder Partnership, Education and Communication (SPEC) Division.  more


Image of Judy Peterson and Sonja Jacombs, IRS.

Monmouth College VITA students received an award from the Internal Revenue Service for their outstanding VITA program.

Shown are (L) Judy Peterson, Program Coordinator and Associate Professor of Accounting and (R) Sonja Jacobs of the IRS.
 



MC accounting students gain experience while helping taxpayers

Release Date: May 25, 2006

Image of MC VITA students.MONMOUTH, Ill -- The 2006 income tax season was considerably less stressful for nearly 300 Monmouth-area families, thanks to the efforts of 11 Monmouth College accounting students who assisted them in filing state and federal returns through the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program./p>

In this, the program's seventh year at Monmouth College, students prepared or helped prepare a total of 670 returns, an increase of 24 percent over 2005. Accounting professor Judy Peterson, who has coordinated the program since its inception in 2000, explained that the free service is aimed primarily at low- to middle-income taxpayers who cannot afford professional assistance.  more



 

 

Top  ◊  Home  ◊  Faculty  ◊  Curriculum  ◊  Courses  ◊  VITA Program

Copyright © 2007- Monmouth College
700 E. Broadway - Monmouth, Illinois 61462
jpeterso@monm.edu - 309-457-2365