Tax Assistance Program now underway

Author: Carol Elliott


Local taxpayers can get help with the preparation of federal and Indiana state income tax returns at nine area locations from now until April 15 through the University of Notre Dame’s 38th annual Vivian Harrington Gray Tax Assistance Program (TAP).

TAP, which began this weekend, enlists accountancy students from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College to provide free assistance to taxpayers whose 2008 earnings were $38,000 or less. The program also offers free income tax preparation to unemployed taxpayers whose 2008 earnings were at or below $38,000 prior to collecting taxable unemployment benefits.

“Filing tax returns is a time-consuming and tedious task that many people approach with trepidation,”said Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and TAP coordinator."Through TAP, students are given an opportunity to apply their skills and interact with people from the community in a setting that emphasizes learning through service.

The program is in the true spirit of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s to provide help to the individual and service to the community."
The program will not operate from March 6 to 15 due to the students’ spring break.Another interruption will occur from April 9 to 13 due to the Easter break.

Taxpayers should bring copies of their federal and state tax returns from last year and other relevant documents.Information concerning possible itemized deductionssuch as real estate taxes paid in 2008, personal property taxes, medical bills and charitable contributionsalso should be made available to tax preparation volunteers.Especially important for this filing season is information pertaining to the 2008 economic stimulus payment received from the federal government.

People with more complicated tax problems should visit one of TAP’s major centers: the River Park, downtown and Western Avenue branches of the St. Joseph County Public Library, or the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library.Certified public accountants (CPAs) will be serving at these locations.For a complete list of TAP locations and hours of operation, visit on the Web or call 574-631-7863.

More than 60 students will be staffing the nine area service centers along with the CPAs who will be on duty at the major centers. Volunteers also form"SWAT"teams to service taxpayers with disabilities in their homes and elsewhere. In 2008, the TAP volunteers filed nearly 3,800 income tax returns. TAP also has become an outreach effort at more than 20 Notre Dame alumni clubs nationwide.

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