Florida A&M University’s National Association of Black Accountants, United Way of the Big Bend, and The Internal Revenue Service – Best Coalition have come together to offer free tax preparation and electronic filing services from Jan. 31 through April 15. These services are for low to moderate income taxpayers and open to FAMU’s staff, students and the public.
The tax preparation will take place at the FAMU School of Business and Industry East Wing located at 500 Gamble St., in room 207 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends by appointments only. The second location will be held at the Smith-Williams Service Center located at 2295 Pasco Street where there will only be walk in appointments from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
NABA’s Community Service Chairman Kambria Smith believed students, faculty, and the community would really benefit from the free tax preparation program.
“Tax preparer is a program implemented here on FAMU campus so that we can service students and people around our community by doing their taxes,” Smith said. “Also it’s completely free.”
Founded in 1969, when less than 1 percent of all certified public accountants in the US were black, NABA works to bridge the opportunity gap of black accounting and finance professionals. Now, the organization has over a 100 professional and student chapters who provide leadership, career opportunities, technical training and networking.
According to the FAMU NABA website, The FAMU NABA Chapter is an organization geared towards providing professional opportunity to minority students in business related fields of study. Accounting, finance, problem solving and analytical skills are just a few of the things the chapter focuses on.
Freshman accounting major and NABA member Chris Keith explained how the chapter has increased his skills.
“The program provides me the opportunity to interact with people and experience different situations that can potentially help me in my self-development,” Keith said.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is a national program sponsored by the IRS. About four years ago, SBI began making the program an annual event to the community. Led by The Tallahassee NABA Chapter President and SBI Alumnus Johnny Session, the event is now a great opportunity for FAMU students to make an impact.
This program is not only rewarding those who take advantage of the opportunity, but is also rewarding to the members of NABA. President of NABA, Jamiel Shillingford, said each interaction he had taught him something valuable.
“The biggest reward of the program for me is an opportunity to obtain relevant experience,” Shillingford said. “The VITA program allowed me to learn a valuable skill that is beneficial to every U.S. citizen and put to use some of the information I learned in the classroom into real-world situations. At the end of the day, I’m making an impact in the community which is honestly the best part.”
Some NABA members believe there are a lot of misconceptions students and even adults have about taxes. By going to the free tax preparation, the team plan on giving correct information while spreading knowledge. Vice President of NABA, Dewell Huell, discussed some things he has experienced.
“I would say common misconceptions are that you need to have extensive knowledge about taxes or that the program is only for accounting majors,” Huell said. “Preparing taxes through VITA is a simple skill that can be learned with the help of your peers and our administrator here on campus. Also, the program is open to all majors or people who are willing to give back, not just restricted to those who are majoring in accounting.”
Free tax preparation, such as the program NABA is offering through VITA, is very important because there are individuals who may not be able to afford getting there taxes done. Individuals are usually charged hundreds of dollars just to file their taxes. This gives individuals and families a financial break. This program also gives individuals and families convenience because of the on-campus location.
For more information about the Free Tax Preparation or to make an appointment, you may call (850) 599-3565.