Many happy returns

Towson's volunteer program offers free tax preparation to community, hands-on training to students

TOWSON, Md. (Feb. 28, 2011)—Students at Towson University are providing free federal and Maryland state income tax preparation to low-income individuals and families on Saturdays from February to April.

Now in its second year, the program is a partnership between Towson’s College of Business and Economics and the Baltimore CASH Campaign, and funded in part by the Bank of America Foundation.

Dr. Melissa Groves and students offer free tax preparation to those in the community who need it most.

Offered only to single taxpayers with incomes under $25,000 and families with combined incomes below $49,000, the program provides federal and state tax preparation that is 100 percent free, helping working families in the Baltimore region save hundreds of dollars.

“Last year we processed around 140 tax returns for community members,” says Melissa Groves, associate professor of economics and director of the program.

Volunteering as both tax preparers and site managers are Towson students—mostly seniors in the College of Business and Economics—who have each committed to donate between 20 and 90 hours of their time to the program and have also completed an intensive, two-day IRS training program.

“Our students are very careful, because it’s not a practice,” explains Groves. “Our clients are real people with real money, and we want to get them every dollar back that they deserve.”

While hands-on experience is a fringe benefit for students, the bigger motive is to help the community. Volunteers work one-on-one with clients, answering questions and filing returns electronically.

“The students are really connecting with people,” says Groves. “Our clients are so excited about the money they’re saving and what it will mean for their lives that they’re literally tearing up. You walk away with a really nice feeling. And I’m seeing clients return from last year. If they come back, it means that they trust us and that says a lot about our students and the quality of their work.”

Towson students who work part time and live in Maryland also qualify for the program and are encouraged to make an appointment for free tax preparation. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit TU’s tax preparation service website.





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