Image courtesy of: Career Center

By: Madison Beckman

Looking for a great way to help out the community while gaining valuable work experience?

The Career Center is looking for volunteers to become Certified Tax Preparers in order to assist with the Tax Aide Program of Orange County.

The Tax Aide Program helps seniors and low-income families receive free tax assistance so they can file their taxes, something that many would not be able to do without this free service provider.  They offer a variety of times and locations for appointments, so that everyone has the ability to get their taxes done.

“Many of these people are receiving money back on their returns that they would not have otherwise received,” said Kathleen O’Keefe, Associate Director of the Career Center at Mount Saint Mary College.

O’Keefe introduced the program to MSMC in 2011. Last year, 20 Mount students participated, including both undergraduate and graduate students. Most students who volunteer are business and accounting majors. But the program is open to all students. Students do not need to have prior knowledge about taxes. The program will teach them everything they need to know.

All students who are interested in participating have to reach out to Kathleen O’Keefe in the Career Center before the Oct. 28 deadline. Since it is like most other internships, students need to first attend a Co-op and Internship Information Session and complete their Career Center pre-employment portfolio.

Students who sign on to become a tax preparer must take three six-hour classes, and complete a certification test in order to become IRS-certified to help out the community.

“One of the challenges I found being involved in the program was the amount of information that I was required to learn,” said Christopher Jaros, a returning student volunteer. “The instructors teach everything that you will need to know from the beginning.”

Jessica Lanning, another returning student tax preparer, admits that it was a challenge giving up time during winter break to commute from her Long Island home to the college to take the certification classes. But she still recommends it, saying, “It is a great experience and helps you learn how to communicate with people and gain work experience.”

Both students said the best part about participating in the program was that they felt great being able to contribute to the community in an impactful way.

“The community really appreciated the Tax Aide program,” said Jaros.