Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU helps international students file tax returns

Tax time is tough enough for natives, but it can be especially, well, taxing for international students.

That’s why the University of Denver has adopted the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, to help international students with their returns. 

Each year, students from the School of Accountancy, International Student and Scholar Services, Beta Alpha Psi and DU’s accounting honor society, along with local CPAs, run the program. And since 2004, VITA volunteers at DU have logged more than 1,500 hours working on about 800 returns. 

John Tripp, an accounting and taxation professor who helps with VITA, says the DU operations are “held in high esteem” by the IRS because of “a minimal error rate.”

“To my knowledge, the IRS has not yet found an error in a tax return prepared at the DU VITA site,” Tripp says. “There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm surrounding the program and the volunteers deserve a lot of credit. They put in a lot of time training to pass the IRS certification to prepare tax returns.” 

Tripp also praised Lucas Anderson, a graduate accounting major from Longmont, Colo., who for two years has coordinated VITA at DU. “He’s really the student energy source for the program, and VITA has quadrupled under his leadership.” 

Anderson says VITA is successful at DU because it’s “a win-win outcome.” 

“International students receive a service necessary for them to stay compliant with the requirements to study in this country. And accounting students, who prepare the tax returns, gain real world accounting experience that will benefit them in their upcoming careers,” Anderson says.

Last year, Anderson won the Daniels College of Business Wall Street Journal Award for his work with VITA.

International students in post-graduate practical or academic training who were employed or who received reportable scholarship funding last calendar year were able to use VITA. 

VITA gets local funding from the International House ($500), the School of Accountancy ($500) and Daniels College of Business ($300).

For more information, visit the VITA site or call 303-871-4912.

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