Accounting Students Rachel Henry of Holmes,  Luis Ayala of Pine Plains Prepare Tax Returns Through VITA Program

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Accounting Students Rachel Henry of Holmes,  Luis Ayala of Pine Plains Prepare Tax Returns Through VITA Program

ONEONTA, NY (04/07/2022)– SUNY Oneonta accounting students have been busy this month preparing income tax returns for the campus community and beyond through the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Through the VITA program, 17 students were extensively trained and are available through April 13 to provide free basic tax return preparation and filing for SUNY Oneonta students and employees. The initiative is also open to area residents, but they must qualify for VITA, and the team is only accepting simple tax returns at this time.

Working in teams of two, the students have filed tax returns for more than 20 people so far, with more appointments scheduled. Appointments can be made Mondays and Wednesdays starting at 5:15 and take place in the Hodgdon IRC building, room 120.

SUNY Oneonta has been a VITA partner organization for many years, thanks to William “Jeff” Weinell, a lecturer and academic advisement coordinator for the School of Economics and Business who passed away in 2020. Weinell, who also served as a mentor and advisor to various campus clubs, initiated and grew the VITA program which, while he ran it, was held off campus and was a volunteer opportunity for a small number of students.

After a year off because of COVID, the program is now being held on campus, which is a first, and has been turned into a class, which assistant professor of accounting Charlene Foley-Deno teaches.

“This is an incredible experiential learning opportunity for our students,” Foley-Deno said. “They are not only putting into practice what they’ve learned in the classroom but they’re also getting to interact with community members and help simplify a process that, for many people, can be confusing and stressful.”

All VITA volunteers must take and pass 50-plus hours of IRS tax law training, which includes maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all taxpayer information. In addition to requiring volunteers to certify their knowledge of the tax laws, the IRS requires a quality review check for every return prepared at a VITA site prior to filing.

To schedule an appointment, contact Jesse Holland at or 607-436-3251.

The following area students involved include:

Luis Ayala of Pine Plains

Rachel Henry of Holmes

SUNY Oneonta is a public, four-year college in Central New York, enrolling about 6,000 students in a wide variety of bachelor’s degree programs and several graduate certificate and degree programs. The college is known as both an exemplary residential campus that values inclusion, service and sustainability, and a nurturing community where students grow intellectually, thrive socially and live purposefully. Visit

Author: Harlem Valley News