Fairfield Dolan Accounting Students Make an Impact Through Tax Assistance Program

Fairfield Dolan Accounting Students Make an Impact Through Tax Assistance Program

Image of business people at their computers.

Participating in the VITA Program gives students the opportunity to apply their accounting skills in real-world scenarios while providing valuable assistance to people in the local community.

I have not only become more confident in my ability to directly apply my learning to the VITA Program, but I have also felt a greater sense of fulfillment by being able to see how I can make a positive impact for families.

— Kallan Hook '21

When associate professor of accounting Ahmed Ebrahim, PhD, CPA, CMA joined Fairfield in 2009 he started a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program site. Originally established in Bridgeport, the site is now located at Fairfield Dolan. Students volunteer through the VITA Program as part of the "Individual Taxation: Socioeconomic Applications" course, to provide free tax assistance to low- to moderate-income individuals and families who are unable to prepare their own tax returns. While students traditionally meet with clients in person, the pandemic required volunteers to move their services online, and in some cases, to get creative.

“We were determined to continue to offer tax assistance to our clients,” said Dr. Ebrahim. “Since we were not able to meet with clients on campus, we moved in-person meetings online when possible. However, not all of our clients have access to a computer or email address, so we had go get creative with getting signatures and materials by using my personal mailbox and fax machine. Despite all of this, I’m proud to say our students were able to continue their important work to help individuals and families file their taxes.”

In place of face-to-face meetings Dr. Ebrahim has clients complete a form with all of the necessary information and details for students to complete the returns. The form serves as a way for students to get to know the individuals and families on paper. Students work in stations and complete 15 to 20 tax returns per class. In fact, the Fairfield Dolan VITA Program site is usually one of the most active in terms of the total number of returns filed and refunds generated.

“This class has allowed me to see the direct correlation between my passion for service and my interest in tax accounting,” said Kallan Hook '21. “I have not only become more confident in my ability to directly apply my learning to the VITA Program, but I have also felt a greater sense of fulfillment by being able to see how I can make a positive impact for families.”

As Dr. Ebrahim explained, student participation in the VITA Program directly correlates with Fairfield’s Jesuit mission of service to others. Many clients are repeat clients, and even some have moved out of state and continue to work with Fairfield’s VITA Program site for tax assistance.

“I am a strong believer in action among reflection,” said Dr. Ebrahim. “We continue to see the same people year after year, and we become friends over time. It’s a nice opportunity to get to meet and to get to know nice families while providing a valuable service.”

Fairfield Dolan's Accounting Program

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Last modified: 04-29-21 5:40 PM

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