UofM Students Provide Free Tax Prep Services for Low-Income Families

June 6, 2016 - This spring, accounting and finance majors from the Fogelman College of Business & Economics provided 337 hours of tax preparation services to residents of the Binghampton area. While the residents benefitted from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit – often totaling more than $2,000 per family – the Fogelman students gained an invaluable service learning opportunity by working in the neighboring community. 

To participate in the program, each student received a minimum of 12 hours of training related to income tax preparation and was certified by the SaveFirst program. Graduate accounting student James Miller helped coordinate the training and work schedule for the students.

"By working with the SaveFirst program, our students received essential IRS training which boosts their resumés, but more importantly, they learned the value of giving back to our community," said Dr. Kathy Tuberville, faculty director of the Avron B. Fogelman Professional Development Center. "Our Fogelman Serves program seeks to have students invested in the community and gain credible leadership experience through service learning. By working with these families, the students learned the value of helping our city become stronger economically. It is our plan to increase the number of students participating next spring and contribute more to the Binghampton community."

The students' efforts helped 837 low-income families secure more than $1.5 million in tax refunds and saved them approximately $334,000 in commercial tax preparation fees. In its second year, the program more than doubled the number of families served over its first tax season.

The SaveFirst initiative ensures that low-income families receive the full Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits to which they are entitled and to encourage long-term financial planning and asset building. With nearly half of EITC recipients in the Memphis region paying a commercial preparer to complete their taxes, local families lose more than $6.6 million each year to tax preparation costs. Free tax preparation yields immediate economic relief when these individuals do not pay commercial preparers for such services.

Gabrielle Maxey