As tax season begins, there are many who might find filing taxes daunting and mysterious. But Beta Alpha Psi at Rutgers is helping low to moderate-income residents in the New Brunswick community ease through the experience.
Beta Alpha Psi is an honor society within the Rutgers Business School for financial information students and professionals, said Community Service Director Eunice Kok. Members promote the study and practice of accounting and finance through professional meetings.
“(The) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) is an annual community service event that Rutgers Beta Alpha Psi participates in through the IRS,” Kok said. “Our candidates and members volunteer during the spring semester at the New Brunswick Free Public Library to help file taxes for low to moderate-income residents in the New Brunswick community.”
Monika Juzwiak, a Rutgers Business School senior and the organization's president, said one of the organization’s biggest goals is to help students develop professional skills throughout the year, but also to encourage members to give back to the Rutgers community by participating in the program.
“Our members become IRS-certified volunteers who can provide free income tax preparations to qualified individuals in New Brunswick. These individuals typically cannot afford to file their tax returns with professional tax preparers,” Juzwiak said.
Volunteering for the program requires a lot of commitment because they have to undergo training and become certified by completing various examinations, said Kok, a Rutgers Business School senior.
Kok said she trains volunteers with their faculty adviser, Anthony Pochesci, an instructor in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems. She also performs a final quality review of the tax returns that volunteers plan to submit.
Members and candidates are able to use what they learned in class and apply it to help others through the assistance program, Kok said.
“(The program) also allows our candidates and members to get involved in contributing back to the community, and help other people with what we can do,” she said.
One of the main reasons she joined Beta Alpha Psi was because of the program, Kok said.
The volunteer program is a unique service project, she said. The society provides a platform for students to contribute to their community.
“Through (the program), I learned more about taxes so I was able to file my own taxes, and also helped some of my friends do so,” Kok said. “It is also important to help others who are in need and less privileged because your help can mean so much to them.”
Aside from the volunteer experience, Juzwiak said there are plenty of benefits in joining the group.
“We always say that there are five main reasons for joining ... professional development, networking, community service, leadership and reputation,” she said.
Being able to list the organization on a resume is helpful for students, she said. The Rutgers chapter is part of a nationally recognized organization.
Getting an education is not all about academics, Kok said. Extracurricular activities play a role in shaping you as an individual.
These activities can teach students skills that they will use throughout their career, she said.
“I think it is important for Rutgers students and faculty to recognize what BAP is doing for Rutgers Business School students, and the amazing work that this organization is doing for the New Brunswick community,” Juzwiak said.