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Group aids locals with tax returns

Jillian Barwick | Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Through the Vivian Harrington Gray Notre Dame-Saint Mary’s Tax Assistance Program, students at both institutions are preparing tax returns for South Bend community members with less than $40,000 of income.

Saint Mary’s senior Kamara Umbaugh, the program’s public relations director, said Notre Dame professor Ken Milani began the program as a volunteer effort in 1972 to meet a perceived need.

“Through his unceasing effort, this tax assistance program has really flourished under Milani,” Umbaugh said. “Over 3,900 tax returns were filed in 2011 with the program.”

The program prepares federal and state tax returns for families and individuals as well as tax-filing services for international students, Umbaugh said. She said the program’s office is in the Mendoza College of Business.

“Participants are Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s students who have completed a tax class at those institutions and have further passed an IRS [Internal Revenue Service] examination,” Umbaugh said. “Students must pass both the basic and intermediate level examinations conducted by the IRS to become involved with the program.”

Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students receive two academic credits for taking a lecture course on individual income tax preparation and participating in the program, Umbaugh said.

“When I heard of this, I immediately was interested,” she said. “I highly value philanthropy and being able to utilize my knowledge to offer services that benefit those in the community.”

As public relations director, Umbaugh is responsible for scheduling, staffing and assisting with television and radio promotional activities.

“I try to promote the program throughout the community and make sure that others are aware of this free tax preparation service we provide for them,” Umbaugh said.

In addition to this position, Umbaugh said she is also part of the SWAT-2 subsection of the program, which visits individual homes of senior citizens to help them with their income tax preparation. These services are provided at nine locations in the South Bend-Mishawaka area, she said.

“This allows for us to provide services at their convenience,” Umbaugh said. “We have been to St. Paul’s Retirement Community as well as other nursing homes or senior living communities as well to provide services to individuals at these locations.”

Umbaugh said she is grateful for the chance to participate in the program.

“Business majors should take Federal Taxation or another tax class their junior year so that they can be involved in the program for both their junior and senior years,” Umbaugh said. “Luckily, I have gotten the opportunity to participate in the program both years, and it truly is a rewarding experience.”

For more information about the program, visit taptax.nd.edu.