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MENDOZA IN THE NEWS

Income tax helpers return

ND students to assist those under cutoff limit

by Joseph Dits, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

February 2, 2005

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South Bend -- Alas, there's a way to make doing tax returns a digestible chore.

Have some milk and Oreos with it.

Zach Wiggins did. A University of Notre Dame senior, he'd come out to do taxes -- at no charge -- last year in the home of a senior couple in which the man was homebound. The man's appreciative wife served Wiggins the treat.

"She was a sweetheart," says Wiggins, student chairman of a tax program that begins Saturday, helping to file federal and Indiana taxes for folks whose annual income is $35,000 or less.

Notre Dame accounting majors, like the 21-year-old Wiggins, will be posted at libraries and community centers throughout South Bend and Mishawaka until the tax deadline of April 15.

They'll help folks on a first-come first-served basis.

The home visits are reserved only for the homebound.

The students follow the instruction and direction of accounting professor Ken Milani, who founded the program 34 years ago.

They help sort through the paperwork and look for deductions and credits.

Wiggins says folks are sometimes surprised at what may turn into a deduction -- like those property taxes that hit so many people so hard last year.

He was disheartened last year when he couldn't find a way to save a man from having to write an extra check to the government.

The man, nearly in tears, said, "It's either pay this tax bill or pay my rent."

Wiggins examined the papers again. No luck.

At least the man didn't have to pay for the tax service.

Milani says he values local student volunteers like Wiggins. They know how to find parts of the community.

Wiggins grew up in South Bend, graduating from both the grade school and high school named after St. Joseph. His parents work in Notre Dame's food service, his dad as a cook and his mom as an assistant.

Where to find tax help

Below is the weekly schedule of where and when the students will be assisting with taxes.

The program begins Saturday. It won't operate March 4 through 13 for spring break nor March 24 through 28 for Easter.

Call (574) 631-7863 for more information. Call that number on or after Feb. 7 to arrange for the students to come do taxes in your home (only if you are homebound).

More information also can be found at the Web site www.nd.edu/~taptax.

In addition to the students, certified public accountants will be available during the scheduled times at the River Park, LaSalle and main libraries in South Bend and at the Mishawaka Public Library.

Be sure to bring the following: W2 forms. Any information about interest and dividend income. Amount spent on child care. Names and addresses of your child care providers, including Social Security or tax identification numbers. A statement from the Social Security Administration about any benefits you may have received. Last year's tax return would be helpful, too.

Mondays

· 3:30 to 6 p.m. at the Near Northwest Neighborhood Center, 1007 Portage Ave., South Bend.

· 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Northeast Neighborhood Center, 803 Notre Dame Ave., South Bend.

· 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Western Branch of the St. Joseph County Public Library, 611 S. Lombardy, South Bend.

Tuesdays

· 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the River Park Branch library, 2022 E. Mishawaka Ave., South Bend.

· 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Centre Township Branch library, 1150 E. Kern Road, South Bend.

Wednesdays

· 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the Center for Social Concerns, University of Notre Dame campus.

· 3 to 5 p.m. at the Reignbeaux Lounge, LeMans Hall, Saint Mary's College.

· 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Notre Dame's downtown office, 217 S. Michigan St., South Bend.

Thursdays

· 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the LaSalle Branch library, 3232 Ardmore Trail, South Bend.

Saturdays

· 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the main branch of the St. Joseph County Public Library, 304 S. Main St., South Bend.

· 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Mishawaka Public Library, 209 Lincoln Way E.