WINONA LAKE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Grace College School of Business is pivoting its annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The school says the program, which provides free tax preparation for elderly, disabled and lower-income Hoosiers filing a basic tax return, will be conducted curbside as a result of the pandemic.
VITA is an IRS-endorsed program sponsored by the William P. Gordon Institute of Enterprise Development at Grace College and the United Way of Kosciusko County. The service is provided by volunteers, including business students and professors at the college, as well as certified public accountants.
“Due to the pandemic, we were faced with a decision: Do we conduct VITA this year or not? As we weighed the options, we recognized that many individuals that rely on Grace to assist in their tax preparation — it’s just too important not to provide,” said Dr. Al Grossnickle, associate professor of business and director of the institute. “However, we want everyone involved to feel safe, so we determined that having a curbside service was the best decision for our community.”
Students in the college’s Federal Income Tax class are required to volunteer for the VITA program and are able to earn applied learning credits as a result. Student Alissa Jagger says those wishing to take advantage of the program don’t need to leave their cars.
“A Grace student will come to the car, receive all of the necessary documents, and take them inside to the tax preparers,” said Jagger. “While the taxes are being done, participants can wait in their car or run errands while their taxes are being completed.”
This year’s VITA program will take place from January 29 through the end of March in the lower level parking lot of the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center, located at 610 Wooster Road in Winona Lake.
Grace College says the program, now in its 12th year, has brought more than $2.6 million in refunds to participants since its inception.