Weatherhead volunteers take the pain out of tax time | Weatherhead

Weatherhead volunteers take the pain out of tax time

Posted 1.22.2013

“April is the cruellest month” according to the poet T.S. Eliot. Maybe he was thinking about Tax Day, which falls on April 15. If that date fills you with dread, take heart: the CWRU chapter of Beta Alpha Psi (the academic organization for accounting students) may be able to help. As part of the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, volunteers will be on hand at the Weatherhead School of Management to prepare and file tax returns--free of charge--this spring.

Chen Jacobson, MAcc 2013, is vice president of community service for Beta Alpha Psi and is organizing the program this year. This is the first year that Beta Alpha Psi has taken charge of the program, but volunteers at Weatherhead have participated in the program for many years. Understandably, it is a hit with many in the CWRU community.

Some 70% of the program’s clients, Jacobson says, are CWRU staff or students, often people who have recently moved to the U.S. Volunteers with foreign language skills (Jacobson speaks Chinese and Spanish in addition to English, and reads Portuguese) are therefore very welcome.

And you don’t have to be an accounting major--anyone can participate by attending a six-hour training session on January 26 with an instructor from the Cuyahoga Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition, a community group dedicated to the VITA Program. No prior experience is necessary, Jacobson says: “The training offers everything you need to know to get certified.”

You might even discover a new career path.

Jacobson is a case in point. She graduated from college in Beijing with a degree in Spanish and got a job at PwC after talking with a recruiter at her university.

“When I started, I had no idea what an audit was,” Jacobson recalls. She quickly found that she enjoyed auditing work, although she prefers working on individual tax returns. “I love individual tax returns because there’s lots of interaction with your clients,” she says. She will begin a full-time position with Ernst and Young after graduating in May.

If you share Jacobson’s interest in tax preparation, get in touch, because Beta Alpha Psi wants to expand their VITA Program this year.

“This is a great way to get real-world experience that you can put on your resume,” she says. “It’s also a great opportunity to make a difference and give back to your community.”

On the other hand, if you are among the tax-phobic, you may be eligible to take advantage of nine tax preparation sessions to be held on Fridays in February, March and April in the Peter B. Lewis Building. Volunteers usually complete a simple tax return in about an hour.

To volunteer, contact Janice Liu at 216.785.1790 or Bairong Zhang at 216.678.0831.

To find out more about the service, sign up at or email

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