By Drew Modjeski
For the first time in Roosevelt University history, the Heller College of Business will be participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).
The VITA program helps low income families, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking persons with preparing and filing their federal and state income taxes.
To bring the VITA program to Roosevelt, the Heller College of Business partnered with non-profit organization Ladder Up.
Dr. Asghar Sabbaghi, dean and professor for the Heller College of Business at Roosevelt, explained how the partnership between Roosevelt University and Ladder Up.
“I reached out to Ladder Up, because I worked with them in the past at St. Xavier University and Indiana University, and I was trying to integrate things like the VITA into the Heller College of Business,” Sabbaghi said.
Dean Sabbaghi said that Ladder Up helps students received certification to assist people with their income taxes.
“Ladder Up has been authorized by the IRS to give training to students. The training is around four to five hours, and the students must pass a test after,” Sabbaghi said.
Being a part of the VITA program has many benefits for students, Dean Sabbaghi explained.
“First of all, they benefit in learning. You can learn better from hands on experience, and the VITA program is a wonderful service learning experience,” Sabbaghi said. “Second, the fact that they are helping the community is another benefit. It is extra points for the income tax course that Roosevelt offers, but the main focus is hands on learning.”
Sabbaghi said that this will also help build the character of students in the program.
“In our business program, we are trying to prepare future leaders. We wanted to build up good character, because it is the foundation of success. Business ethics are the integrity to our program,” Dean Sabbaghi said.
Sonali Patel, a senior accounting major at Roosevelt, is one of the 28 students helping out with the VITA program, and said being in the VITA program feels good because she can help others in need.
“I have a background in income tax experience in my home country of India, and wanted to learn more about the US tax system,” Patel said. “Being a part of the VITA program has made me feel confident in helping file their taxes in the US.”
A few days during the tax season, the students who received the IRS certification through Ladder Up will servicing people at the Harold Washington Library, according to Dean Sabbaghi.
“Roosevelt started a little late, so they will work with Ladder Up at the Harold Washington Library, which is a site already established by Ladder Up,” Sabbaghi said. “We are hoping next year we are going to have a site here in our own building.”
The sessions are scheduled to be held at the Harold Washington Library.