An accounting class at South Central College is preparing to help local low–income individuals with their taxes for free.

The school's accounting department partnered with Minnesota Valley Council Action over a decade ago, to prepare returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

SCC alumnus and VITA Site Coordinator Bryan Wheeler said there are several steps that students take before volunteering.

"The students prepare going to the IRS website, they have to take three certifications," said Wheeler. "They have to pass an intake certification, they have to pass a basic exam, and then they have to pass a conduct of ethics."

Second-year student Tony Payne is ready for his first-year of volunteering. 

Payne said he has received hands-on experience from the class and he hopes it will assist in his future goals.

"After I am done with my schooling, I plan on helping in the fall, help farm and then help my day at Wiechman Pig Co., " said Payne. "And spring of the year, I plan on doing taxes, so based on what we've done so far, I'm liking it." 

In the school's press release, they said all site coordinators at MVAC, have been accounting graduates, for the past eight years.

The site coordinators all connected with VITA , through their experience as a student.

 SCC Accounting Instructor Jodi Olson said when it comes to her students, this program is about more than just crunching numbers.

"We actually assess our students on how they are interacting with the clients down there [MVAC], so we have pretty high expectations for our students as well," said Olson. "Not only on their technical confidence, but in their communication skills."

Single filers with an income of $36,000 or less and married filers with an income of $60,600 or less are eligible for the service.  However, they do make exceptions, so it is important to check with MVAC.

The services are available at MVAC from Feb 3 – April 11. MVAC said they are open on Wednesdays from 5:30– 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 12– 4 p.m. by appointment.