Exterior view of Co-op Wellness Commons with MHC crest

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MHC students provide free accounting support to community

Medicine Hat College students prepare taxes for community members at the Root Cellar Food and Wellness HubMedicine Hat College students prepare taxes for community members at the Root Cellar Food and Wellness Hub.

Learning to apply their accounting knowledge through hands-on experience, Medicine Hat College (MHC) students supported their peers and community members through free tax preparation clinics in March and April. 

Heather Stahl, accounting instructor from MHC’s School of Business and Continuing Studies, created the tax preparation clinics in 2023 through the Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). The program allows volunteers to complete simple tax returns for low to moderate income individuals and families. 

Initially offered only to MHC students, Stahl hosted the clinics at the Root Cellar Food and Wellness Hub, expanding the service to all community members.

“The students demonstrated both professionalism and compassion to all who attended the clinics,” says Stahl, who supervised the students as they prepared over 200 returns. “I hope the students took away a feeling of giving back to others and an appreciation of different lifestyles and situations.”

First-year sport and event marketing and management student, Candia Sissons, took an introduction to accounting course with Stahl, which piqued her interest to volunteer for the clinics. 

“I learned so much from Heather and I couldn't turn down the opportunity to work with her again and learn even more than I did in the classroom,” says Sissons. “She encouraged us to work as a team, support one another and lean on other people’s experience and knowledge.”

Helping students and community members understand the importance of filing their taxes and ensuring they receive benefits for which they are eligible was a rewarding experience for Sissons. 

She recalls a client who was at a zero-income level that had not filed their taxes for two years. 

“Even if you don't make an income and you're over 18, you still need to file your taxes in order to receive any benefits that are available to you,” says Sissons. “After helping her, the client ended up getting enough money back to pay off her student loan and she was so grateful that she had tears in her eyes and asked if she could hug me. The clients were appreciative, humble, and kind, and it made me feel good to end the season on a really positive note.”

Sissons adds her appreciation for the opportunity and looks forward to volunteering for the tax preparation clinics again for the foreseeable future.