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Stories of Value

Professor
Ken Milani

Accountancy

PROJECT:

Founder,
Notre Dame Tax Assistance Program (TAP)

KEY TAP PERSONNEL:

Edward Hums,
Professor of Accountancy

Thomas Bullock,
International Tax Services Coordinator

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A Tax Parable

Thirty-five years ago, Ken Milani didn't know that $8 would change his life.
But it did.

Less than a week after arriving on campus in 1972 to begin a new teaching job at Notre Dame, Professor Ken Milani was approached by students who were interested in helping local residents claim an $8 tax credit but needed someone to train them on how to prepare federal tax returns. With his household belongings still in boxes, the young Milani agreed to train a few students and coordinate a small tax preparation effort on the west side of South Bend.

35 years later, Milani is still the director of the Tax Assistance Program (TAP), where he oversees more than 90 student volunteers, as well as several local accountants, who staff 11 area service centers. Volunteers also form "SWAT" teams to serve disabled taxpayers in their homes and hospital rooms. In 2007 alone, the group filed more than 3,600 income tax returns.

Of all the taxpayers Milani has helped over the years, one woman in particular stands out in his mind. Milani learned that she was blind and raising her children on less that $15,000 a year. He worked on her return and realized that she was entitled to a $3,000 refund.

With tears welling in her sightless eyes, she asked Milani, "Are you God?"

"No," he said, "I'm just a guy who does taxes."