Athens, Ga. – Nearly 800 local residents sought free tax preparation this tax season from University of Georgia students as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
Students from both the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Terry College of Business participated in the program, volunteering their services in partnership with the Georgia United Credit Union and the Internal Revenue Service.
Students who enroll in this service learning course – offered by the financial planning, housing and consumer economics department in FACS and accounting within Terry – earn academic credit.
VITA volunteers undergo several hours of training and must pass a certification test through the IRS before being allowed to prepare taxes.
On Friday, the day of the financial planning students’ final exam, Georgia United Credit Union board member and former UGA assistant vice president for student affairs, Tom Cochran, addressed students in Dr. Lance Palmer’s financial planning class.
Cochran thanked the students for their participation in the project, which began in 2006 under the leadership of Palmer, Cochran and former FHCE department head Dr. Anne Sweaney.
“I’m very proud of the relationship Georgia United Credit Union has with FACS,” Cochran said, “and I’m very proud to be a part of this effort. We have been partners with Dr. Palmer from day one and that partnership has enabled us to do something we could not otherwise do. It is the way a partnership should work: both partners benefit.”
The students provided 724 e-filed federal returns during the season along with 17 paper returns; students also prepared 723 state returns.
Those numbers likely would’ve been higher, but five prep days were lost due to bad weather in the Athens area, Cochran said.
The average adjusted gross income of the clients served was $31,964.
The students’ work resulted in $1,005,925 in total federal refunds and $189,373 in total state refunds. Almost all of the prep work was performed at Georgia United Credit Union’s Gaines School Road location.
Cochran and Palmer estimated the students’ efforts represented more than $185,000 in savings for their clients.
“That’s money in the taxpayers’ pockets that they would have paid out,” Cochran said.
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