Students in need of tax prep help have options on campus

MSA’s program makes a return this year, and a CSOM program continues.

As the deadline to file taxes approaches, students may find the Minnesota Student Association âÄòs free tax service helpful, brought back for the first time since 2007. The service, sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service , provides help with preparing and reviewing taxes to both students and non-students. Chris Wittich , then-accounting graduate student involved in MSA, started the service in 2006 after working at a similar program. Wittich was one of the tax preparers in 2006 and 2007, but said the program was discontinued in 2008 after he graduated because of the lack of students interested in becoming tax preparers. Leah Sitka , a junior accounting student who is one of the tax preparers, said preparers went through a certification training program provided on the IRSâÄôs website that allows them to prepare civilian and military taxes. MSA Campus Relations Chairwoman Missy Gettel , who is in charge of the program, is also one of the certified tax preparers and said theyâÄôve been insured by the IRS to prepare taxes up to $40,000. The program has also been certified by the Minnesota Department of Revenue to prepare Minnesota state taxes, Gettel said. The service can complete federal taxes for all U.S. citizens and Minnesota taxes, but is not certified to prepare state taxes for residents of other states âÄî though Gettel said she hopes the program will be able to prepare taxes for Wisconsin residents next year. âÄúIn the future, thatâÄôs something that weâÄôll look at providing,âÄù Gettel said. âÄúThis is the rebuilding year.âÄù International students are referred to Gary Carter, a senior lecturer at the Carlson School of Management , who said in an e-mail that he has trained preparers who can handle the special returns that non-residents must file, in addition to Minnesota residents. His program at CSOM has been running for about 15 years. While some students may find the service helpful, others said they wouldnâÄôt use it because they have their parents fill out tax forms. Matt Volz , a sophomore civil engineering student, said he had âÄúno clueâÄù on how to file his taxes, so taking advantage of the programs would be easier for him. Sophomore English student Shannon Bullock said the forms look âÄúvery confusing.âÄù Eric DeVoe , a junior economy and history student, said he was skeptical of the quality of the tax work for the MSA tax service. âÄúIt seems kind of shady almost to just have another person who isnâÄôt really a pro at it helping you out,âÄù DeVoe said. Walk-ins for MSAâÄôs service are on a first-come, first-served basis, but Gettel said the program has enough resources to assist about 1,000 people throughout the tax season. âÄúWeâÄôll try our best to accommodate as many people as are ready for us,âÄù Gettel said. She said the service will be helpful for students who would otherwise have to pay for it or have their parents complete their forms. âÄúI like to see students helping students,âÄù Gettel said. âÄúWeâÄôre going to go through the process with them and get them more informed.âÄù