College of Business

From the Dean's Desk

terence lau headshot

College of Business Dean Terence Lau

April 5, 2021

Dear friends and alumni, 

As I look at the last 12 months, it almost seems that decades have passed. Think about it. In these mere 52 weeks, political turmoil and division led to a second presidential impeachment in one term, every college and university became an online university, the resilient stock market ended the year at all-time highs despite a devastating and tumultuous pandemic, trillions of dollars were pumped into the economy by the government, including $2 trillion signed into law in March 2021—a figure that was unimaginable—and, sadly, 2020 became the deadliest year in US history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time, due to COVID-19. It became the first year since 1947 that more than 1 percent of the US population has died.

One thing that I’m confident will never change is our dedication to the local community. Guided by our vision and mission, our college aims to further the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business’ (AACSB) goals of having a positive impact on society. A great example of this is our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

 vita students

Zach Morales, Chico State student and VITA volunteer, with taxpayers in March 2021.

The VITA program started at Chico State in 2012. One of our lecturers, Sue Maligie, had been working in public accounting for many years and been involved with VITA through other organizations. When she joined Chico State, she saw the immediate benefit of being involved with VITA would bring to our students. She ran the program for a few years, and after a hiatus, is back supervising the program for the 2021 tax season.

The VITA program is sponsored by the IRS, and in California is run in conjunction with the franchise tax board. Taxpayers who meet income eligibility, including most Chico State students, are eligible for free tax return preparation through VITA volunteers. The volunteers provide the same level of service as paid preparers do—a service that can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars. Volunteers undertake rigorous training, including an ethics exam to protect taxpayer confidentiality. Given the complexity of the tax code, it’s not uncommon for student preparers to find hundreds or thousands of dollars of tax credits for taxpayers that they wouldn’t otherwise discover on their own, Sue said. Every week, she recounts stories of how overjoyed taxpayers are to find out the results of their student-prepared returns and how the volunteers benefit from the level of experiential learning it brings because “not every W2 is the same, not every 1099 is the same.” Working with VITA helps our volunteers prepare to join a professional environment, which makes seizing the employment opportunities they deserve much easier.

This year, VITA is run a little differently. The pandemic means that capacity is strictly controlled, plexiglass has been installed around the student preparer, and taxpayers may need to come back a second time to review their return. An extension of the deadline to submit tax returns to May means they will stay busy for a few more weeks. Despite this, Sue anticipates no drop-off in the number of taxpayers seeking assistance. If anything, VITA may see more. Since the program’s inception nearly a decade ago, Sue estimated that thousands of taxpayers have been assisted by Chico State students.

The work of our students and faculty with the VITA program would not be possible without the generous support of our benefactors and supporters. From our College of Business family to yours, we wish you the best wherever you are. We thank you once again for your generous support of the important work taking place in the College of Business. If you’re interested in exploring how you can support your alma mater, or if you just want to find out more about what we’re doing, please feel free to reach me at tjlau@csuchico.edu.

Sincerely,

Terence Lau
Dean, College of Business
California State University, Chico
Chico, CA 95929-0145

Glenn Hall

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