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Notre Dame-Saint Mary’s to provide free tax help

by Carol Elliott

January 30, 2012

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Local taxpayers with annual incomes of $40,000 or less will be able to get free tax preparation help from University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College accounting students, beginning Feb. 11 (Saturday).

The Vivian Harrington Gray Tax Assistant Program (TAP) will offer services at nine sites in South Bend and Mishawaka through April 17. The centers will be closed March 10-17, and April 7-9 due to the students’ spring and Easter breaks. For a complete listing of centers and hours of operation, call (574) 631-7863 or visit business.nd.edu/Accountancy/Domestic_TAP/

TAP Director Ed Hums said the volunteer preparers assist domestic clients, who are either U.S. citizens or have legal permanent resident status, including unemployed taxpayers whose 2011 earnings were $40,000 or less prior to collecting taxable unemployment benefits. TAP also helps international clients, including University faculty, researchers, scholars, students and staff. The program provides in-home visits to mobility-impaired taxpayers unable to travel to a TAP center, as well.

Taxpayers visiting a center should bring:

·         Social Security cards for all individuals listed on the return

·         A driver’s license or government issued identification card

·         Copies of tax year 2010 federal and state tax returns

·         W-2 and 1099 forms

·         Any additional paperwork reporting income  

·         Any tax-related information received financial institutions

·         Documentation of money spent for child support or dependent care

·         Information concerning possible itemized deductions, such as real estate taxes, personal property taxes, medical costs and charitable contributions

Hums encourages people with more complicated returns – those with capital gains or losses, business income, or a death in the family, for example – to visit one of the four TAP sites that have certified public accountants on duty. These include the St. Joseph County Main Library, as well as its River Park and Western Avenue branches, and the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Main Library.

He also suggests calling the center in advance of the visit to inquire about sign-up policies and hours of operation.

The TAP program was founded in 1972 by Accountancy Professor Ken Milani to help area low-income residents receive much-needed income from their federal and state tax returns, and to provide students with practical tax preparation experience. Each year, more than 90 student volunteers as well as Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s faculty members and local accountants volunteer at the centers, filing nearly 4,000 returns annually. Alumni have started TAP groups in their own communities after graduation, with more than 20 chapters now operating across the country.