It’s the middle of tax season and Curry’s accounting students are busily meeting with local taxpayers every week to file their annual tax returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program led by the IRS. The VITA program was created to support free tax preparation services for families who meet specific income requirements, but it also serves those in the military and older Americans. The College has helped local community members with the free tax service since 2019.
Graduate student Cody Murch ’20, MSA ’21, has led Curry’s VITA program for three years as site coordinator and describes the practical experience as invaluable.
“The VITA program allows students to put accounting topics learned in class to practice in the real world,” he says. “We take an individual tax class as part of our accounting curriculum but seeing the tax return and filling it out for a client for real brings another level of learning. Many of us have had moments where we said, ‘this makes so much more sense now.”
“This program helps students see what life would be like as an accountant filing individual tax returns for clients and determining if tax is the path they wish to take in the field,” he adds.
Before serving clients in the VITA program, accounting students must complete a two-part lab course with specific VITA training, including mock interviews, preparing mock returns, and learning professional tax software. The program’s design has two students assigned to each client; one is the tax preparer who has initial contact with the client and prepares their tax return. The second is the reviewer, who will also interact with the client and perform a quality review check on the tax return before submitting it to the IRS.
Through the program, accounting students work on real tax returns while also developing nontechnical skills. “We’re learning client interaction skills, and as a site coordinator, I’ve learned how to manage a tax services practice and have also developed leadership and management skills by training others,” he says. “As accountants, there is an expectation of understanding more than just accounting topics. We should be able to interact with a client in a way that allows us to diagnose their needs or problems properly.”
Murch was motivated to continue studying at the College and wanted to pursue a graduate degree in accounting at Curry because of his positive experiences as an undergraduate and student-athlete. He is a goaltender on the men’s ice hockey team. “I feel fortunate for being a part of Curry’s outstanding academic and athletics programs. I am considering returning to Curry to pursue an MBA while playing another year of hockey.”
The graduate student was also interested in the Master of Science in Accounting program at Curry to further his expertise and job prospects. “Pursuing my MSA will also help me as I prepare to sit for my CPA exam and as I further my accounting expertise, I know that it will help me get a job at one of the big four accounting firms.”
Murch already has a full-time job offer to begin working this fall for KPMG, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services. While he finishes his graduate work this year, he is also currently working part-time supporting accounting and finance at Accent Therapeutics.
“I am graduating this spring and have not quite decided what I will do next but thanks to my professors and coach, I have many options.”