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Accounting students to provide free income tax assistance

RELEASED: March 4, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire accounting students will provide free income tax assistance through April 13 to those who cannot afford to pay for professional help.

The assistance is provided through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, a special program of the Internal Revenue Service and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. VITA provides income tax assistance to those with adjusted incomes under $49,000.

VITA volunteers will prepare federal and state tax forms and related schedules, said Brenda Thalacker, a lecturer of accounting and finance at UW-Eau Claire. Taxpayers with more complex returns and questions will be referred to the IRS or will be advised to seek professional assistance. Eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis by a VITA volunteer.

Thalacker said being a part of this program is a requirement for UW-Eau Claire's "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance" accounting course.

"This course provides a needed service to our community by offering to low-income families and individuals free tax return preparation while also providing our students with an opportunity to take the theory they learned from their income tax class and applying it to real-life situations," she said.

For senior Laura Geckler, Cedarburg, this is not only a good way to learn how to do taxes, but also to help the community.

Geckler said she is one of about 40 UW-Eau Claire student volunteers at VITA and spends about four hours per week on free tax return preparation. In addition, she said it's useful to put the information she learned from her classes into practice.

"Helping the people is really nice because doing taxes is a frustrating thing for some people," she said. "To be able to help people out in that way makes you feel good that you're helping them."

Students like Geckler will be available to meet with taxpayers on a first-come, first-served basis at the following times and locations:

  • Mondays, 2-6 p.m., Western Dairyland, 418 Wisconsin St.
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1-4:30 p.m., RCU Shopko South Office, 1049 W. Clairemont Ave.

Taxpayers seeking tax preparation assistance should consult the RCU website for information about the tax documents they should bring with them.

For more information, call the VITA hotline at 715-833-7257.

-30-

BS/RD/DW

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