Local Tax-Assistance Effort Expands

Boston College student accountants have expanded an annual volunteer campaign to assist elderly and low-income citizens with their tax returns, doubling the number of service calls scheduled at community centers across the city.

"This year is bigger than ever," said Asst. Prof. Louise Single (CSOM), faculty coordinator of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program that dispatches student tax-preparers to neighborhood centers in Waltham, Quincy and across Boston.

The 101 student volunteers in the VITA Program are scheduled to make 41 site visits through the April 15 filing deadline, more than twice the number made last year, according to Single. VITA is run by the Internal Revenue Service, which supplies training materials for students to use. Boston College has participated in the program for the past nine years.

She said the BC program has joined with the non-profit Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts to increase the number of site visits this tax season, with stops in South Boston, East Boston, Chinatown and Quincy added to the core schedule of visits to Allston-Brighton, Dorchester, Roslindale and Waltham.

Single estimated that Boston College VITA students will help prepare at least 200 returns this tax season.

Without the program, Single said, many elderly who are owed tax refunds might not file the returns needed to claim them.

"I had one man tell me, 'I've never done it and I never want to. I get so nervous dealing with the government that I wouldn't want to make a mistake,'" she recalled. "This was a man who made less than $10,000 in income, so he really needed the right amount of money back.

"In Chinatown, many don't speak English and can't begin to figure out the forms - which is hard enough for us who speak English," Single added. "Without this service, many of these people would have great difficulty filing."

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