Accounting Students Give Back Help With Tax Prep


Amy Varland

Leah Shockey and BHSU Accounting Professor and VITA organizer Dr. Liz Diers

Amy Varland, Senior Editor

Black Hills State University accounting students are giving back to their community by helping elderly and low-income community members in the Black Hills prepare their tax returns for free. The students are participating in VITA — the Internal Revenue Service-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

VITA organizer and assistant professor of accounting at Black Hills State University Dr. Liz Diers said many people don’t know how, or don’t have the resources to, get their tax returns prepared.

She said this is why the VITA program is a win/win for students and the community.

“We use trained volunteers, accounting students, that have completed the accounting curriculum requirement of income tax class. So they’re well-trained volunteers that hopefully will be CPA’s someday, but it gives them the experience of actually preparing income tax returns while we’re assisting members of the community with the free income tax preparation,” said Diers.

Diers said students are often nervous before sitting down to help actualclients, but many leave more confident about the process. She said participating in the VITA program also helps students make career choices by giving them a glimpse at what a typical career in the tax business would be like.

BHSU student Leah Shockey is one of volunteers and said VITA is proving to

be a valuable learning experience.

“I think it’s preparing me more than anything else we’ve really done in class. You get the whole human aspect of it, not just the paper story. You get to relate to people and hear their stories and see that these things really matter in their lives. And a human connection – every case is different, every person is different. I have learned so much,” said Shockey.

Shockey said the people she’s helped areappreciative — one even brought her brownies as a thank-you.

Taxpayers with basic returns who make less than $55,000 per year and meet other eligibility requirements can benefit from the VITA program.

For information on the VITA program contact the BHSU School of Business at