During the tax season, Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting honors society at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, has created a student-run accounting firm, WhiTax. The purpose of the program is to give back to the community and gain hands-on experience by providing free tax services to low-to-mid income families, veterans, students, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
WhiTax, consists of 17 undergraduate and graduate accounting students mostly from within BAP, but includes non-BAP members. Students in WhiTax learn the fundamentals of accounting in the classroom and extensively train with local tax professionals before assisting clients. Experienced accounting professionals are also onsite to help guide students. Services available through WhiTax include general tax preparation and compliance guidance.
“I am extremely proud of the group of students who have committed their time to first become certified and second to help people traverse the complex internal revenue code,” said John Petosa, professor of accounting practice at the Whitman School and WhiTax faculty supervisor. “The experience of sitting before a real client, not someone in a case study or a textbook, is an incredible application of the classroom to the real world.”
To Brett Aston, president of WhiTax, being able to help others is invaluable.
“It feels good to give back,” said Aston. “These low-income individuals and families come in and when I get to tell them what they are getting back in taxes, I feel good about the work that we are doing. To some of these people, their tax return money is a couple months’ worth of income.”
Beyond being able to assist others, Aston also feels that the experience he and his fellow WhiTax members gain will be beneficial as they enter the workforce.
“This is a chance to see another side of accounting, one outside of the classroom,” said Aston. “I’m going to be working in tax and this is experiential learning for me before I start work.”
In prior years, WhiTax students have helped local tax organizations prepare taxes off campus. This year, WhiTax provides services on campus inside the Whitman School.
“We have the resources, students and the willingness here,” said Aston. “Whitman is all about community service and giving back to those in need.”
According to Aston, WhiTax is also focusing efforts on not only helping low-income clients but Syracuse University faculty and staff.
“We want to build the customer base so that every year everyone knows to go to Whitman,” said Aston. “We want to make it a habit for them.”
WhiTax operates as a chapter of the AARP Tax-Aide Foundation. WhiTAX services are available every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Whitman School. Appointments are on a first come first service basis. WhiTax services will be offered until Apr. 15. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit http://whitax.weebly.com or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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