Student org impacts community, volunteers tax services to people in need
Very few people look forward to Income Tax Day with much anticipation. If anything, the entire process of filing taxes can be complicated, stressful and frustrating. That's why finance and accounting students in the Beta Alpha Psi organization at University of Houston-Clear Lake have been providing their services, free of charge, to those who are having difficulty getting their taxes filed in time.
"Beta Alpha Psi is a national honor society for finance and accounting majors, and we have had an active chapter here at UH-Clear Lake since the 1980s," said Professor of Accounting Randall Xu, who is the organization's faculty advisor. "One of the services our organization provides is free tax services to people in need of assistance."
Xu said that for many years, Beta Alpha Psi has been in partnership with Baker Ripley, which connects low-income families and individuals to opportunities and services. "Baker Ripley recruits professionals from the business community to offer this service," he said. "Baker Ripley trains the volunteers, then gives them a permit to do the work, from February to April."
He said students gain critical exposure and valuable accounting experience as they complete the tax returns for Baker Ripley clients. "This helps our students become more experienced and competitive when they go for their own job search," he said. "This is a very dedicated group of students who work cumulatively for hundreds of hours during tax season. Our students always go beyond what's expected."
Aly Ngo, an international student from Vietnam who is working toward her Bachelor of Science in Accounting, said she joined the Beta Alpha Psi this year. "It's such a good opportunity for me," she said. "This spring, I took a course called Federal Taxation for Individuals. I'm getting good experience working on the tax procedures with people."
She said she chose accounting for her career path because she liked the numbers, but she was also a very detail-oriented person. "I joined this organization because I wanted to get more connections and improve my communication skills," she said. "It's a perfect step for me to improve myself. Also, I enjoy helping others and it's a good chance to help in the community. I like to help people file their taxes. They're always happy when it's done."
Ngo said she had helped 40-50 Baker Ripley clients file their taxes. "I usually volunteer two days a week. I hope to work in a public accounting company and right now my main goal is to pass the certified public accountant exam," she said. "Volunteering at Baker Ripley is a great supplement to advance my career."
For more information about UHCL's Accounting program, go online.