Felician University Volunteers Assist Area Taxpayers

Rutherford, NJ – March 21, 2019 – The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program at Felician University offers free tax assistance for the local community. It primarily serves low-income residents, senior citizens, persons with disabilities and taxpayers who speak limited English. It completed its ninth annual program on March 16.

In 2010, Joseph Lizza, an assistant professor at Felician’s School of Business, saw a need to give his students real-world experience and to offer them opportunities to engage in the Felician Franciscan mission of service. Professor Lizza and two students began their collaboration at the Rutherford Library and served approximately 40 clients at that time. It has grown from a small initiative into a well-known community resource. The program has outgrown its original location and is now held on the Felician University Rutherford campus.

All VITA volunteers must pass a rigorous certification course administered by the IRS. Professionals from Professor Lizza’s firm, Lizza & Associates, oversee the process and provide guidance to the student volunteers. This year these professionally certified Felician students, with Professor Lizza and personnel from the firm, spent three full day Saturdays, February 16 & 23 and March 16 in assisting area residents to prepare their returns at no charge.

VITA is a high-impact practice that is designed to aid the local community, but it is not just the taxpayers served that have benefitted from this program. Professor Lizza described the pride he feels when he sees his volunteers provide this service: “In our continued commitment to the community through the VITA initiative, volunteers build tremendous experiences and gain extremely valuable skills which are necessary for an easy transition from the academic setting to an employment setting.”

For the second year, Felician Sister M. Annelle Velivis, Director of the Blessed Mary Angela Institute, brought a human touch to preparing tax returns by welcoming the residents as they patiently waited for their turn, offering them a few cookies, telling them about the foundress of the Felician Sisters and the beginnings of Felician University, and listening to their stories.

About Felician University

Felician University engages over 2,300 undergraduate, graduate, and adult students through programs in arts & sciences, business, nursing, and education. Universal Franciscan values of social justice, compassion, and respect for human dignity serve as an inclusive foundation for transforming the lives of tomorrow’s leaders. Felician University’s education is ranked 3rd best return on investment for private colleges in New Jersey 2018 by the PayScale.com College ROI Report and is ranked #1 safest college campus in the state by niche.com. To learn more about Felician University, please visit www.felician.edu.