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OBU Students Offer Tax Preparation Assistance

February 6, 2001

Oklahoma Baptist University accounting students are finalizing plans for an IRS-sponsored tax preparation and filing help center for local residents in need of assistance completing their 2000 tax returns.

The free service will be available Jan. 31-April 16 from 1-3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the university's Bailey Business Center, room 215.

The student volunteers are members of Dr. Todd Jackson's Income Tax II course. Jackson, OBU associate professor of accounting, launched the idea for OBU as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program center when he considered his students' proficiency in the subject and their desire to help members of the community.

"This gives the students practical experience and provides an opportunity for them to offer community service," Jackson said. "I would like to see the program grow, see an increase in the volume of tax returns filed, and establish a Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program."

The OBU VITA site will incorporate IRS-provided computers and professional tax preparation software. Electronic filing will be used for most returns, typically providing refunds in two to three weeks.

A VITA site also is located at the Shawnee Public Library.

OBU VITA site volunteers Clay Collum, Chris Elliot, and Lauren Garlow, and Jackson will complete an IRS training course in basic income tax return preparation before the site opens. VITA volunteers will prepare Form 1040EZ, Form 1040A, and Form 1040 with Schedules A, B, C-EZ, D, EIC, R, and SE.

Taxpayers who visit a VITA site should bring this year's tax package (if one was received by mail), wage and earnings statements (Forms W-2), interest statements from banks (Forms 1099), a copy of last year's tax return if available, and other relevant information about income and expenses.

Accurate Social Security names and numbers for taxpayers and dependents are important for quick processing of returns and refunds by the IRS. Any taxpayer wishing to have a refund direct-deposited should bring a voided check.

Appointments are preferred for assistance at the OBU VITA site, but walk-ins may be accepted. For an appointment or more information, contact Jackson at 878-3270.