‘It feels good to help the community’: CSU accounting students offer free tax prep

VITA Tax Assistance

CSU volunteers prepare tax returns for local residents as part of the VITA program on March 26, 2022. (Photo: John Eisele, CSU Photography)

For the eight weeks leading up to tax day, 16 accounting students volunteered their weekend mornings to help their community while also learning valuable career skills in the process. 

A total of 100 people ultimately benefited from the Colorado State University College of Business’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service, which provides free tax preparation services to people with an annual income of less than $58,000 or who are more than 60 years old. 

“The best part about participating is just hearing how grateful our clients are for preparing their returns,” said Haleigh Avila, an accounting graduate student who volunteered and helped coordinate the VITA events. “It’s really nice to have that one-on-one personal connection with the people we’re working with.”

One of those clients was Fort Collins resident George Rentzel, who has been using VITA for at least 10 years. He said it has saved him quite a bit of money as opposed to using a private service. 

VITA tax assistance numbers 2022

“This year I had to file an amended return,” he said, “but was still in and out in less than an hour.” 

IvyRose Barnish, a senior accounting student, is the tax aide coordinator for CSU’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a nonprofit service organization for accounting, finance and information systems students. 

She’s volunteered for VITA before, and said her love of numbers drew her to accounting. 

“It feels good to teach people to understand what taxes are and how they work, because they’re something everybody has to do – you can’t just get out of it,” Barnish said. 

And numerous people walked away from VITA with pleasant surprises. Barnish said she helped one customer get their stimulus check and an additional return. That person planned on using the money to buy a car. 

Student volunteers VITA tax assistance

Avila said she helped another client who didn’t have a cell phone get an unexpected $1,400.

“Once she found out she was getting that extra money, she said, ‘Well, I’m going to brunch, and I’m going to finally get a phone,’” Avila said. “It feels good to help the community.” 

About CSU’s College of Business

The College of Business at Colorado State University is focused on using business to create a better world.

As an AACSB-accredited business school, the College is among the top five percent of business colleges worldwide, providing programs and career support services to more than 2,500 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Faculty help students across our top-ranked on-campus and online programs develop the knowledge, skills and values to navigate a rapidly evolving business world and address global challenges with sustainable business solutions. Our students are known for their creativity, work ethic and resilience—resulting in an undergraduate job offer and placement rate of over 90% within 90 days of graduation.

The College’s highly ranked programs include its Online MBA, which has been ranked the No. 1 program in Colorado by U.S. News and World Report for five years running and Report and achieved No. 16 for employability worldwide from QS Quacquarelli Symonds. The College’s Impact MBA is also ranked by Corporate Knights as a Top 20 “Better World MBA” worldwide.