Four Edinboro personal financial planning and accounting students are volunteering this spring to prepare and file taxes of low-to-moderate income workers in Erie County, Pa.

John Duda, who’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting; Tyler Nicholson, a business administration major with a personal financial planning concentration; Nabin Pokhrel, a dual major in accounting and business administration – personal financial planning; and Hannah Sisson, who’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in finance, have trained to become IRS certified tax preparers through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and are working with United Way Erie FREE Taxes for the 2022-2023 tax season.

Volunteering and making a positive impact on the community were the two reasons Nicholson got involved.

“It feels incredibly rewarding to use what I’ve learned in the classroom to help others,” he said. “Through volunteering, I’ve gained valuable experience in tax preparation, communication, problem-solving, and I feel a sense of fulfillment knowing that I’m making a difference in people’s lives.”

Pokhrel is using this experience to learn what to expect in his post-college career.

“Getting involved and making a contribution to the community not only feels good, but it also helps to build a better world for everyone,” he added. “The satisfaction and personal growth that comes from helping others and gaining experience are unparalleled.”

United Way Erie FREE Taxes is an IRS-supervised program that provides free tax preparation service to eligible individuals and families in a variety of locations.

“Not only does Erie FREE Taxes provide a tremendous benefit to community members, it also provides our student volunteers with an outstanding resume-building opportunity,” said Dr. Mike Engdahl, Edinboro professor and Erie FREE Taxes liaison. “Participating in the program as an income tax preparer shows that a student has experience in income tax preparation, plus has committed to volunteerism.”

The Edinboro team prepares taxes from 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays in 215 Compton Hall on Edinboro’s campus.

Through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, Erie FREE Taxes also ensures that every eligible filer claims the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – an anti-poverty tool that has lifted more than 10 million adults and children above the poverty line.

EITC provides a cash credit that boosts incomes of low-to-moderate income workers, helping them meet their basic needs. For those who receive the credit, it may enable them to save for emergencies, pay down debt or put a down payment on a home.

Since 2007, Erie FREE Taxes has demonstrated strength as a family and community economic development tool by netting workers more than $136 million.

Photo: Edinboro students John Duda, Tyler Nicholson, Nabin Pokhrel and Hannah Sisson, with tax experts Greg Frodelius and Sue Ritteger.