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Tax Preparation is Far From Taxing for QCC Students and Their Instructor

April 2020

Thanks to several Quinsigamond Community College students and their instructor, Adjunct Faculty member Eduardo Rivas, residents in the Worcester community were able to receive free remote tax assistance through the City of Worcester’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through the end of April. VITA is a free tax preparation service available to individuals whose household income is $56,000 or less, the elderly, those with disabilities, as well as limited English speakers who need assistance in preparing their tax returns.

Mr. Rivas is the volunteer coordinator for the VITA program, as well as a QCC instructor for the College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance course (not to mention a QCC Admissions Enrollment Counselor). Until the recent state closure of non-essential businesses, he and his 50 volunteers (both QCC students and volunteers from the community) had prepared over 300 tax returns at both the Main South Community Development Corporation and at QCC’s Community Learning Hub, located at Great Brook Valley.

According to Mr. Rivas, the need was so great that there were times when 14 preparers were working at the two sites, making him realize that he needed to find a way to continue to help people prepare their taxes. Several QCC students, who were part of Mr. Riva’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance course, helped him prepare the taxes they remotely received.

The QCC course is designed to introduce students to concepts and languages of the IRS and taxation. The students had to become certified tax preparers before they were allowed to prepare federal and state taxes for others. The course also required all students to complete 12, three-hour volunteer sessions. According to Mr. Rivas, this was the second year the course has been offered and nine former students came back to volunteer again this year.

“This class was truly rewarding. I also enjoyed doing the necessary work and enjoyed working with the clients, as well as the volunteers. I see such a diverse group of people who come and have been through so much. I am glad that we could help, and in the same way help ourselves by gaining experience and skills,” said QCC student Joe Ramos, an accounting certificate major.

Once the state closed the in-person program, students worked on returns for their own family and friends, while they waited to help others who sent in remote taxes.

“I received emails from a lot of my volunteers expressing their willingness to help me in preparing returns remotely, or with any other projects related to the VITA project during this time,” Mr. Rivas said.

Many of Mr. Riva’s students have sung the program’s praises and encourage other students to consider taking the course when it is next offered.

“Go for it! You will learn so much more than you would have learned in a classroom setting. You will gain so much from this program - on an educational level and a social level,” said Elaine Bond, a business administration transfer major.

If someone is considering being part of this volunteer program, I highly recommend it. It is an excellent opportunity to help the community. I was super happy to see such a large Spanish speaking community and I loved helping them in their own language,” said Miosotis Rosado, who is a Business Administration Career major.

For more information, visit Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.