North, to Alaska, is Spring Break Destination for Ithaca College Accounting Students
ITHACA, NY — A quartet of accounting students from Ithaca College has parkas packed for their Spring Break trip, which will land them about as far away from the beaches of Daytona and Panama City as you can get. The four will spend March 8–17 in Alaska, providing free tax help to residents of remote villages.
For the past decade, the Ithaca College School of Business has participated in a program sponsored by the Alaska Business Development Center as part of its Volunteer Tax & Loan Program (VTLP). Rural Alaskans who don’t otherwise have access to services due to low income, language barriers and geographic location get help preparing their state and federal income tax returns and handling disputes with the IRS, while the students gain valuable experience.
Brandon Discenza, Matt Kimmey and Nicholas Vazquez — all graduate students in the MBA program in professional accountancy — will be joined by senior accounting major Katie Tascione for the trip.
“Since December, the four of us have been working on practice returns to become acclimated with the scope of the returns we will be preparing,” said Discenza. “There are some special tax laws in Alaska, so we needed to become proficient in these areas. It is an honor to represent Ithaca College and to have this opportunity, and I am excited to meet the people, see the landscape and experience their culture.”
Ithaca College is one of only five institutions to take part in the program; the others are the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Idaho, Gonzaga University and University of Montana.
The VTLP serves regions of Alaska — from the Aleutians to the North Slope to the Yukon Delta — where populations are typically less than 300 people per village, professional tax assistance is limited or not available at all and the only means of transportation into the community is via small aircraft.
The volunteers travel in groups of two to four students and one supervisor who is in charge of logistics, education and assisting with any complications in the field. The teams often work from 8:30 in the morning until after midnight, with residents sometimes waiting eight or nine hours in line to get their taxes done.
For more information on the Volunteer Tax & Loan Program, visit www.abdc.org/programs/vtlp.