WSU Hosts Accounting Aid Society VITA training at the Ilitch School

Students gather for VITA Preparer training in the Deloitte Accounting Research Lab

On Saturday, January 20, 2024, forty-two students attended the Accounting Aid Society's (AAS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Preparer training. This training, which took place in the Deloitte Accounting Research Lab, allows participants to serve as volunteer tax preparers for Detroit's low-income population. The day-long immersion class was hosted by the Ilitch School's Department of Accounting with the cooperation of the WSU Undergraduate Library.

Volunteers learn necessary tax law, pass a certification test, and gain experience with the software used to prepare and file returns electronically. This was the second training session, with the first held on Saturday, December 9, 2023.

Following the workshops at Wayne State, the AAS met its seasonal goal of 250 trained and certified volunteers, who will deliver individual tax services for the low-income and elderly population of Southeastern Michigan. 

This program aligns with Wayne State University’s mission for engaging with our larger Detroit community, and with WSU’s College to Career initiative, which seeks to provide every student with experiential learning opportunities that allow them to encounter the world, gain deeper insights and new perspectives, and prepare for prosperous careers. 

Approximately two dozen students, faculty and staff across the WSU community participated in the volunteer preparer team. Nine students subsequently accepted full or part-time internships as seasonal tax site staff with AAS. Since the training takes place in a single Saturday session, students can maintain commitments to their current courseloads, internships and current employment. 

"I'm thrilled to see so many of our students and members of the community serving with the Accounting Aid Society," says Deborah Habel, Associate Professor of Teaching. "It was my first experience delivering tax services when I was an undergraduate and was key to my eventual decision to become a CPA. Working with the taxpayer sitting right in front of you is very rewarding.  

"For many Accounting Aid Society clients, the tax refund check is the largest single check their family will receive in the year. Some will set it aside and use it during the year as bigger bills come due. Some are holding off on major car or home repairs until their tax refund can pay for them. Others will use it to help pay for their winter heat or medical expenses. I am very serious when I say that when taxpayers learn that a significant refund coming their way, you can see relief and anxiety melt away. I cannot speak more highly of the program – both for those that need the help and for the volunteer preparers’ professional experiences." 

Student reviews tax documents online

A nationwide IRS program, VITA provides no-cost income tax preparation assistance for households with an income below $58,000 a year. AAS's VITA program is one of the largest in the United States. A repeat recipient of the Best Managed Non-profit award from Crain's Detroit Business, AAS has been providing services to the working poor and retired since 1978 throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, and, as of this year, Washtenaw counties. Since then, they've secured in excess of $455 Million in tax refunds and credits for their clients, almost $28 Million of that in 2023 alone. More information about the multiple programs offered by AAS can be found on their website.  

AAS VITA sites started receiving clients on January 20, 2024, and will continue to do so through April 15, 2024. Volunteer training is still available online for those interested in helping Detroiters prepare their income tax returns.

The Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business prepares students for challenging and rewarding careers, advances the boundaries of scholarly and practitioner knowledge, and enhances the economic vitality of the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and beyond through its programs, research and community engagement. Established in 1946, the business school was renamed in 2015 in recognition of a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch. Thanks to this lead investment, the school moved to a new state-of-the-art building in the heart of the District Detroit in 2018, and academic programming and collaboration with city businesses are expanding. For more information, visit

View all news stories