University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

UW-Eau Claire Faculty, Students
Honored for Volunteer Activities

 MAILED:  May 1, 2003

EAU CLAIRE - Nearly 200 low-income individuals or families in the region received assistance with the preparation of their state and federal income tax returns this year, thanks to the volunteer efforts of accounting students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

It's the 18th year that UW-Eau Claire accounting students have provided the free service to low-income and elderly taxpayers who need help with their tax returns prior to the April 15 filing date.

These efforts recently were recognized by Western Dairyland Community Action Agency, which awarded its annual Community Services Award for 2002 to Lucretia Mattson, associate professor of accounting and finance and coordinator of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance project since 1988.

David Sanchez, deputy director of Western Dairyland, said the community services award is presented annually to an individual or organization that has contributed to the advancement or well being of low-income families in the community.

Mattson, who teaches tax accounting at UW-Eau Claire, said the program is a service to people who don't know how to prepare their tax returns and can't afford to hire someone to do it for them.

This year's 46 student volunteers, co-chaired by senior accounting majors Eden Feddick and Laura Hassemer, were required to attend a daylong training session led by an income tax professional from the IRS and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

"In addition, about a dozen students also attended a half-day training session on electronic filing, which we used for the first time this year," Mattson said.

Working in teams of two, the students were available certain evenings during the tax season at a variety of community sites including Oakwood Mall, Head Start locations in Eau Claire and Augusta, Interfaith Hospitality and Royal Credit Union on Bellinger Street.

In all, Mattson said, the student volunteers helped prepare a total of 194 tax returns and e-filed 48 returns.

"The program is definitely a valuable service to the community," Mattson said. "Our main emphasis is to make sure low-income individuals and families get the earned income credit they qualify for on their federal return and get their homestead credit on the state return. This can make a difference for some in keeping body and soul together.

"Besides earning service-learning credit, which is a requirement for graduation at UW-Eau Claire, students reap important benefits from the project, Mattson said.

"They apply what they learn in class to real-life situations, they learn they have a skill that benefits someone else and they get a chance to practice their communication and interpersonal skills by dealing with the public," she said. "The experience is also a first-step in becoming a true professional, which I believe involves using your skills and abilities to give something back to the community."

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JW/JB


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: May 1, 2003