UT Students Help Locals File Taxes
Nearly 300 University of Texas students are helping low-income Austinites prepare their taxes. The students work through the Community Tax Centers, a program of the Austin-based non-profit Foundation Communities, which provides housing and other services to low-income Austin residents.
The students are enrolled in an Accounting Practicum, begun by professors Ross Jennings and Steve Limberg in 2004 with about 100 students. Class enrollment has vaulted to 260 students, who will clock 55 service hours by the end of the semester and become IRS-certified.
“Our volunteers are impacted by clients in a very tangible way,” said Jackie Blair, volunteer coordinator for the Community Tax Centers. “Talking about the tax process is very scary for a lot of people, and it’s a big learning experience.”
Foundation Communities Spokeswoman Keary Kinch reports that these services would cost about $150 from a for-profit tax preparation company like H&R Block.
“There’s such a need for these kind of services in Austin,” said Kinch. “The more we publicize the program, the longer the lines out the door.”
The volunteers are expected to prepare an approximate 20,000 tax returns, amounting to $29 million worth of refunds for the Austin economy.
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