Erie FREE Taxes’ work isn’t done, even though the official tax season has ended!
Post-season tax preparation began in May and will continue through the end of August, with tax preparation sites being located at two centralized locations in Erie. According to program director Marybelle Martin, people who file their taxes post-season are typically those who need to file for previous years or need to amend their 2021 tax returns.
Erie FREE Taxes’ site coordinator and Gannon University professor Dr. Renee Castrigano and Penn State Behrend returning student and tax preparer Logan Kostial were tapped to present at the recent IRS’ Virtual VITA/TCE symposium on July 26. This symposium was targeted toward helping educational institutions learn about the VITA/TCE program and becoming VITA sites themselves. Dr. Castrigano spoke about the benefits of having an onsite tax prep site in which the students can apply the skills they learned in the classroom after completing their IRS certification. Logan spoke about those benefits from a student’s perspective, and also noted that he used and refined both his soft skills and his ability to build rapport with the filers.
Currently, there are two colleges with onsite VITA programs in Erie County – Gannon University and PennWest Edinboro – while both Penn State Behrend and Mercyhurst University incorporate income tax preparation in select classes. Those students then have the opportunity to participate in the VITA program as certified volunteers.
New for tax season 2023:
Business teacher Matt Greene at Fairview High School has taught and trained his high school students to successfully prepare and file income tax returns, and his high school students are expected to take and pass the same IRS exam that all other tax preparers must pass in order to be certified to prepare taxes for the VITA program. It is significant to note that Fairview High has the distinct honor of being one of only a handful of high schools in the nation that offer student led tax preparation and Erie FREE Taxes is excited that Matt and his team will be offering their expertise and experience to our filers for the 2023 tax filing season.
Erie FREE Taxes is also expanding in a different direction, into Crawford County! The Spartansburg branch of Corry Federal Credit Union will begin offering tax preparation services to filers in that area, under the supervision of site coordinator Andrea Jones. In addition to being a valued member of the CFCU community, Andrea has been a tax preparer and a site coordinator with VITA for years and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the filers.