The students are working at 26 locations, including the BC Neighborhood Center, during tax season to assist local residents, mostly elderly people living on fixed incomes, according to Lect. Gerald Holtz (CSOM). Most of the students are drawn from across the undergraduate ranks, including some accounting majors. About 25 of the students are from the Law School, he added.
All of the volunteers underwent four hours of training in February as part of the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. They are prepared to work on relatively simple federal and Massachusetts returns, Holtz said, and refer individuals with more complex financial situations to professional tax preparation services.
"But that rarely happens," Holtz said. "Often times, the help we provide is to tell [our clients] they don't have to file a tax return" because their income level is below the federal and state threshold.
Holtz said the effort is coordinated by about a dozen students, chosen from among applicants who wrote essays. Some of the students speak languages that are particularly useful. Student volunteers who speak Mandarin and Cantonese, for example, were among the teams that visited the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center in Chinatown and the Cambridge Senior Center last month, he said.
"I think the students gain several things through the program," Holtz said. "They have an opportunity for community service, they learn how to do simple income tax returns and they can use their knowledge to help others.
"They feel a sense of accomplishment in helping these elderly people and those who feel disadvantaged."
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