Three years ago, Anna Le had a hunch about her future.

She had always been good with numbers, so when offered a chance to learn tax preparation as a Suffolk undergraduate, she rolled the dice. Almost instantly, she was hooked.

“I liked it right away,” said Le, now a Sawyer Business School graduate student working toward a master of science in taxation. “I remember that I emailed my accounting professor [Michaele Morrow] early on and told her to please sign me up for next year.”

Today, Le is a seasoned veteran when it comes to preparing taxes for community members and students free of charge through the University’s partnership with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, Center and the Boston Tax Help Coalition.

60 Student volunteers

Le is one of 60 Suffolk students—40 on campus and 20 at other Boston-area VITA locations—who are certified to prepare basic tax returns for other students and for nearly 400 low-to-moderate-income individuals and families.

Students spent 2,471 hours preparing 1,498 returns at the campus site. 

“I tell my classmates and friends that VITA is an excellent opportunity to get some experience in tax preparation,” said Le, who received her undergraduate degree in accounting from the Business School in 2016. “It helps you gain experience related to your major, and you get an idea of what tax is all about.”

“I tell my classmates and friends that VITA is an excellent opportunity to get some experience in tax preparation,” said Le, who received her undergraduate degree in accounting from the Business School in 2016. “It helps you gain experience related to your major, and you get an idea of what tax is all about.”

Le said that tax systems are different around the world and that many foreign students might not know the filing requirements in the United States.

“In my country, for example, people don’t file their tax returns annually,” said Le, who is from Vietnam. “Suffolk has a lot of international students coming from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds, so this program is extremely helpful for them.

“This is something that I love about Suffolk because it allows students to learn and see things from different perspectives, both in the classroom and in life.”

Le is in her third year of volunteering and finds many rewards in the VITA program, especially “volunteering my time to help people and giving back to the community.”

Encouraged by mentor

She works with Morrow’s guidance and describes the professor as a positive mentor.

“Her lectures and trainings are always clear and to the point,” she said. “She encourages students to think and form their own opinions. I have learned a lot from her and that’s why every year I keep coming back.”

“Anna is extremely intelligent, confident, and thoughtful as a student tax preparer,” said Morrow. “She takes the time to learn the how and the why of preparing taxes.

The Suffolk VITA Center, located on campus in the Center for Entrepreneurship, is open from Wednesdays through Saturdays until April 8, with the exception of March 15 through 18. Appointments are required.

Le already has secured a full-time job as a tax consultant at a public accounting firm in Boston this summer.

“The VITA program allowed me to put the knowledge I gained in class to practice,” she said. “After that, I realized that tax could be my career.”