Students earn real-life tax experience

Susquehanna University students Justin Endy and Abigail Carr help Stanley Gemberling, 76, of Selinsgrove, fill out his taxes at the Union-Snyder Community Action Agency in Selinsgrove on Wednesday.

SELINSGROVE — Stanley Gemberling used to do his own taxes until they got too complicated. Wednesday he was taking advantage of a free service where Susquehanna University business students were helping Valley residents with their tax returns ahead of next week’s deadline.

It's all part of the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, and SU accounting professor Richard Davis uses it as a way to get his business students some real-life experience.

"It's a chance for the students to really interact with real people, doing a real tax return," said Davis. "It's different from the books and the classroom."

Thirteen students in Davis' Tax Practical class earn four credits for the class. The volunteer work is an added bonus. Working with the Union-Snyder Community Action Agency, the students help Valley residents with their tax returns, including those who qualify based on income level, senior citizens and others. Students mainly handle simple returns and avoid complicated filings, Davis said.

"I think it's great for the old people and the retired," said Gemberling, 76, of Selinsgrove. He said the students that helped him, seniors Abigail Carr and Justin Endy, did a good job.

Carr said she enjoyed getting out of the classroom for a day and offer some help.

"I thought it was a good opportunity to help people that otherwise wouldn't have any way to get their taxes done," she said, "It's constant learning."

Like Carr, Endy thought using tactics the students learned a classroom setting was helpful.

"It's a good experience to apply what we learn in the classroom to the real world and help people actually do their taxes, not just the fake ones in the classroom," he said. "It's been going well and a lot of different clients and new clients."

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