Hugh Cooper and John WilliamsWhen January arrives, it brings a new year, new resolutions and tax season--a season that involves mountains of paperwork, receipts and trying to organize a year’s worth of expenses and deductions into one neat file. For the 2016 tax season, W students had the opportunity to work with real families and help them save real dollars.

The opportunity was introduced to W students when representatives from the Columbus Air Force Base contacted the university’s College of Business and Professional Studies searching for volunteers for the CAFB’s Tax Center. After much research and discussion among Dr. Scott Tollison, dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies, John Williams, accounting instructor, and Hugh Cooper, visiting instructor of accounting, the opportunity was approved. “Accounting has several different avenues and directions. If you’re going to do it every day, you better enjoy it. We encourage students to go out and get experience,” said Williams.

The first step was to ensure that students were properly trained and prepared for the task. Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offered by the Internal Revenue Service, students were able to become certified volunteers that specialized in helping military families. All students who desired to participate in the training had to be enrolled in or already passed The W’s Tax Accounting I course.

Peyton LeeThose students who received the certification from VITA were awarded one-credit hour and those who went on to volunteer at the CAFB Tax Center received two additional credit hours.

Throughout the 2016 tax season, seven students prepared returns on the Air Force base. Under the supervision of CAFB personnel, students gathered information and prepared tax returns for clients.

Peyton Lee, senior accounting major, was one of the students that helped file the tax returns. From one of the biggest returns to ever be filed through the base to everyday filings, Lee’s experience helped build his confidence in both the knowledge he had gained through the class and in his decision to pursue the career as a CPA, but he was most grateful for the opportunity to give back.

“It was a thank you to our military and for all that they do,” stated Lee. “It was cool to have the opportunity to work with them.”

For their hard work and dedication to the Columbus Air Force Base community, the students received a personal letter from Col. John Nichol, Commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing. The letter recognized their work by acknowledging that they helped serve 121 families to receive $269,894 in tax refunds and saved more than $24,000 in tax preparation fees.