Ithaca, N.Y.—Instead of packing bathing suits and shorts for spring break, three Ithaca College business students will be donning their parkas and packing their laptops on March 3 to head for remote villages in Alaska. Getting around in puddle jumper planes and snowmobiles—there they will prepare tax returns free for low-income residents.
The project, sponsored by the Alaska Business Development Center and conducted under the federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, becomes a win/win—the residents get taxes prepared and the students get experience. Before heading out to the villages, the students will undergo training on tax issues and procedures specific to Alaska—the students will then put their skills to task.
“There’s no substitute for experience, and that is a strong part of education here at Ithaca College,” said Associate Professor of Accounting Joanne Burress, who has been accompanying the students and coordinating this project for three years; the college has participated for six years.
The 12 villages range in population from 54 to 654, with some on the Alaskan Peninsula and others north of the Arctic Circle.
“It’s an alternative spring break,” said accounting senior Tendai Masaya ’07, who is from Zimbabwe. “Aside from the learning experience, it’s a way to help the community and to learn about the culture and how people live in these communities.”
The other students, Carolann Luce and Michael Shumway, are both graduate students in the MBA Professional Accountancy Program.
Villages to be visited: Chignik Lagoon (population 86), Chignik Lake (pop. 117), Port Heiden (pop. 89), Pilot Point (pop. 73), Egegik (pop. 81), Levelock (pop. 54), Huslia (pop. 265), Kuyukuk (pop. 97), Ruby (pop. 185), Galena (pop. 654), Nulato (pop. 310), Kaltag (pop. 227).