Community Outreach: Student Tax Volunteers Help Low-Income Families

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Contributing to a legacy that reaches beyond our campus community, since 2006, McCombs School of Business accounting students have volunteered with the Foundation Communities’ Community Tax Centers for the City of Austin, helping low-income families get the most out of their tax returns. Your vital program support promotes innovative learning opportunities for McCombs students, while undergraduate scholarship support gives students the freedom to explore the full range of curricular and extra-curricular opportunities available at the university.

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Each spring, Brian Lendecky, lecturer in the Department of Accounting at the McCombs School of Business, teaches his students accounting skills and the true value of their education through hands-on community volunteerism. Working with the Foundation Communities’ Community Tax Centers for the city of Austin, his students use their in-depth tax knowledge to help low-income families in Austin get the most out of their tax returns.

As part of the curriculum, students complete 55 volunteer hours working with Community Tax Centers, a Foundation Communities program that partners with the Internal Revenue Service to implement the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for low-income filers.

In 2009, volunteers at Community Tax Centers helped more than 17,000 people prepare their taxes. McCombs students comprise nearly 50 percent of the center’s volunteers. With the help of McCombs students, low-income families in Austin claimed more than $27 million in refunds and credits.

“The tax practicum gave me the opportunity to use the skills that I had cultivated at McCombs to help provide honest and high-quality tax preparation services which are simply not available to [low-income] families in Austin,” says Ellen Wilhelm, BBA ’09, MPA ’09, a 2008-2009 recipient of the Ellen McAngus Ezell Scholarship in Accounting. “… I consider this to be a vital piece of my education, taking classroom theory and understanding how it applies to real people. … I am thankful that scholarship money afforded me the resources to take classes like the tax practicum which go beyond core curriculum.”

By Christopher Palmer from KNOW (August 4, 2009)

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