Tax II students file tax returns

Brooke Holden, Staff Writer

FMU and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) join to provide free tax return services to area residents, FMU students, staff and faculty for the seventh year.

FMU Tax II students are available in the School of Business computer lab located in Founders Hall room 259 C. This service is made possible through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Services will be provided on Wednesdays from 5 to 9 p.m. through April 10. A valid driver’s license, social security card, W-2 forms and any other documents needed for filing must be present. There are no income requirements.

FMU School of Business Tax Professor Brad Johnson, Ph.D. teaches the course and serves as supervisor to the students who complete the tax return process.
“This is what some people call service-learning; they learn from me all semester, they learn the mechanics from the book and in here they do it,” said Dr. Johnson, “It’s real on the job training.”

Andrew Helms, a senior accounting major, said this is his first time ever completing tax returns but feels confident.
“I’m concerned someone will come in with something complex, like a C schedule, that I’m not familiar with, which would be a learning experience, but we have Dr. Johnson looking over our shoulder, overseeing and overlooking what we’re doing,” Helms said, “So there’s no concern that we’ll hurt the people’s chances of getting their return.”

Raven Harley, a sophomore pre-nursing major, believes that to be true as she returns for the second year to have her taxes files.
“I trust these students because they are like me, I don’t think they would double cross me because I am one of them,” Harley said.

Harley has participated in Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services before at the public library, but dealt with long lines, lots of people and a longer process.

“Here,” she said, “There are many more agents, accounting students, which allow for a faster process.”

She said within 30 minutes her process was complete.

Dr. Johnson arranges the students to work in pairs, at a total of eight stations. Each station is equipped with two students and a computer with Taxwise software. A conservative, estimated goal given by Johnson is to prepare 15 returns each night. Johnson said they’ve exceeded the goal every night and stay busy until the service ends at 9:00 p.m.

The university has a partnership with the IRS to offer the program. FMU supplies the computers, the hard drives, the know-how (students and Dr. Johnson) and the IRS supplies the software.
Employees of the IRS are also present to readily answer questions.
“The IRS is here and a former FMU graduate serves as a revenue agent is here,” Dr. Johnson said.

Dr. Johnson credits the support of FMU faculty for the success of the program.

“The President is very supportive, I used to think it was mine until I ran up against some problems I couldn’t solve without the President’s support, dean’s support, provost’s support,” he said,“Without their support, I couldn’t do it.”

For more information about the service, contact Dr. Johnson at (843) 661-1427.