The accounting department’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which has been offered on campus for more than 35 years, will not be offered to students, senior citizens and others in need of service this year.
Don Chamberlain, chair of the Arthur J. Baurenfeind College of Business, said that due to several constraints on the department, the decision to not offer the annual tax service this year had to be made.
“Frankly, we want a tax expert overseeing our program – we want to get it right,” Chamberlain said. “We miss and hate not (offering the program). It’s a good experience for our students. We thought long and hard before we decided to take this time off. We just don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the quality of our program.”
The retirement of the program director, Floyd Carpenter, and the temporary reassignment of Tim Miller as interim University president, has contributed to a heavier workload on the accounting department.
Ray Rodriguez, accounting professor from San Antonio, Texas, will join Murray State’s faculty in the fall and will take over running the program in 2015.
“We will be back in full force next year,” Chamberlain said. “We’ve hired an extremely competent tax professor coming in the fall semester. We are very excited about (Rodriguez); he has a wealth of skills and abilities.”
In absence of its tax services, the accounting department has compiled a list of professional organizations still accepting clients. There will, however, be fees involved in utilizing these organizations. Chamberlain said the providers on the list are the local offices that typically hire Murray State graduates.
Senior citizens seeking help filing their taxes can contact the Murray Calloway Senior Citizens Center for assistance. Director of the Murray Calloway Senior Citizens Center, Eric Kelleher, said their program is available by appointment only, on Wednesdays through April 2.
Another local tax assistance program through United Way,will also not be offered this year. Samantha Haneline, executive assistant at United Way of Murray-Calloway County, said they do not have the volunteer necessary to act as site coordinator of the program.
Murray State’s Volunteer Income Tax Service program is sponsored by the award-winning Beta Alpha Psi chapter, an honor society for accounting students.
Wayne Tervo, certified public accountant and assistant professor in accounting, said the number of returns processed in a year by VITA has reached more than 700 in the past, but has fell to less than 300 in 2013, with only 290 hours logged.
Usually 150-200 students utilize the program each year, and 35-40 accounting students gain experience processing returns during February, March and April.
Madison Embry, junior accounting student from Morgantown, Ky., said she really enjoyed working for VITA last year.
“The program provides a service to such a broad spectrum of people,” Embry said. “While providing this service to people, the students doing the tax returns are able to gain real-world experience before graduating college.”
Embry said she plans on participating again next year when the program returns.
“I’m excited to be able to help out the Murray community through the program,” said Embry. “I’ve witnessed firsthand how valuable this program is to Murray, and I can’t wait to be a part of it again.”
Story by Lori Allen, Staff writer