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Students Help Low-Income Workers with Income Taxes

February 12, 2007

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Fifteen Northwestern University student volunteers have begun preparing basic tax returns for eligible community members from Evanston, Chicago and the surrounding areas at the National Student Partnerships (NSP)-Evanston.

The trained volunteers are providing free tax preparation and filing services as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for low-income workers whose incomes fall under $38,348.

The services are offered at Evanston One-Stop Center at 1615 Oak St. in Evanston. NSP-Evanston volunteers are IRS certified and have been thoroughly trained by a Certified Public Accountant. Volunteers will file tax returns electronically to shorten the time clients will wait to receive refunds. In addition, volunteers will provide clients with information on financial literacy.

The tax preparation program is headed by Lia Silver, NSP-Evanston site coordinator, and Molly Day and Jess Hamerslough, Northwestern University seniors who serve as the local directors of the Evanston office.

Many taxpayers eligible for tax assistance through the VITA program are also eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). “This year, NSP-Evanston is focusing on outreach to broaden local knowledge of the free tax service provided on site so that more individuals receive access to the EITC benefit,” said Hamerslough. “Clients will also be provided information on credit, budgeting, bank accounts and other aspects of financial literacy so they can take advantage of the EITC benefit that they later receive.”

NSP volunteers will provide free, confidential tax preparation services until April 15 by appointment only. NSP-Evanston is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Individuals interested in using the service should call the office at (847) 864-3530 ext. 208 to determine eligibility requirements.

Last year, volunteers at NSP filed 91 returns and were able to collect a total of $43,144 in Earned Income Tax Credit for their clients. This will be NSP-Evanston's third year operating as a VITA site.

NSP works to bridge the gap between universities and communities to combat unemployment and homelessness. Student volunteers work one-on-one with low-income community members to help them accomplish a range of tasks, from finding housing and employment to connecting to other social services.

For more information visit www.nspnet.org or call (847) 864-3530 ext. 208.

Topics: Campus Life