Providing Taxpayer Assistance to Communites

About the Session

The FERM Community 2020 Education Award recipient Joan Koonce will present information about the University of Georgia Athens Virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This program  provides virtual taxpayer assistance and planning to taxpayers at local county Extension offices statewide. Using technology (secure email system, Skype for Business, and an online scheduling system), Cooperative Extension works with financial planning and accounting students to complete, review and e-file both federal and state tax returns for taxpayers virtually. Started in 2017, the program has assisted thousands of taxpayers and saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax preparation and refund-anticipation loan fees. 


Participants will:
  1. The steps in starting a virtual VITA site,
  2. The pros and cons of operating a virtual VITA site implementation,
  3. The benefits to those involved in virtual VITA site implementation, and about the success of the UGA virtual VITA program.  

About the Presenter

Joan Koonce, Ph.D., AFC®, CPFFE, is a Professor and Financial Planning Specialist in the Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia.  She was a teaching and research faculty member for 17 years.  She is the co-founder of the CFP® certified financial planning program.  Her research on the financial management of low-income households has been recognized as excellent scholarship by her colleagues nationally.  She and two other colleagues conducted ground-breaking research on low-income consumers’ use of the alternative financial sector (AFS).  Her research on the AFS made especially unique contributions to the literature and won the Dixon Award for the Outstanding Applied Consumer Economics paper published in Advancing the Consumer Interest.  Her scholarship was also recognized by the American Council on Consumer Interests (ACCI) when she received the ACCI Mid-Career Award.  She was recognized by the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning Education as one of the most frequently published authors in the journal during 2000-2009.  She has numerous peer-reviewed publications (including journal articles, Cooperative Extension publications and conference proceedings and abstracts).  She has been PI and Co-PI on a number of teaching, research and outreach grants totaling more than 4 million dollars.  She has provided leadership to both statewide and multistate (12 states) grant-funded health insurance projects.  Her leadership of these projects led to her nomination and service as a member of the National Health Insurance Literacy Action Team. Her appointment is currently 100% Cooperative Extension, and she is responsible for developing financial planning educational resources, training county Extension agents and conducting workshops and seminars for the public in the areas of risk management and insurance, investments, taxes, retirement and estate planning. The statewide virtual volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) project she provides leadership for received the AAFCS Excellence in Extension Award.

Professional Development Unit (PDU):  1 CFCS, 1 CPFFE

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