Four Ithaca College Students Head to Frozen North for Spring Break
ITHACA, NY — Instead of swimsuits and sun lotion, a quartet of Ithaca College students will be packing parkas and IRS 1040 instructions for their spring break trip. Three undergraduate accounting majors and an M.B.A. student in professional accountancy are traveling to Alaska March 11–17 to provide free tax help to residents of remote villages.
The program, which the Ithaca College School of Business has been participating in for the past decade, is sponsored by the Alaska Business Development Center and conducted under the federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.
Rural Alaskans who don’t otherwise have access to services due to low income, language barriers and geographic location — the nearest H&R Block office to Chefornak is nearly 500 miles away — get help preparing their state and federal income tax returns and handling disputes with the IRS, while the students gain valuable experience.
This will be the second trip for Meghan Miller, who earned her accounting degree last year and is currently studying for her M.B.A. She will be paired with senior Ryan O’Connor in working on Kodiak Island. Seniors Amelia Cimini and Albert Roy will team up to work in western Alaska.
After they fly into Anchorage, the teams will get around their assigned territories in puddle jumper planes, pickup trucks, ATVs and snowmobiles and work out of schools, cultural centers and community halls. Last year, the teams often labored from 8:30 in the morning to 12:30 at night, with residents sometimes waiting eight or nine hours in line to get their taxes done.
In addition to the learning experience, students participating in the program gain satisfaction from helping disadvantaged communities and learning about the culture of those communities. Miller was treated to some home-cooked moose last year by one Alaskan native as a token of gratitude for her hard work.
For information on the program visit www.abdc.org/services/program-vtlp. You can read an article about last year’s trip at http://fuse.ithaca.edu/tax_season_in_alaska-19149/.