Business students assist income tax preparation

Posted Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - 5:12pm

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It’s come that time of year when people are running around with documents and receipts; everything is last minute, which means one thing: it’s tax season again.

At Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah, Henning Olsen, Ed.D., conducts a tax program every year in the Reeves Building for students, senior citizens and people with low income. He’s been doing this since 1982 and the program prepares between 400-600 tax returns per year.

For students this can be quite a confusing time. What do I claim? What happens if I make a mistake? Everything you need to know, the business students can help you with. The biggest mistake you make is not bringing the right information with you. You must always make sure to have the right forms, papers and numbers or else they will send you back home, Henning said.

Former employee, Rosemary Motte has been getting her taxes done by students since the late ‘80s and Bunnie Vansickle has been coming for over 20 years. Those are just a couple loyal examples from the community.

Something you may have not heard of is that students can claim their tuition and books. Scholarships do not count, but whether or not you are a dependent tells who can claim these. Another question is when do I claim income? If you are an unmarried dependant student and your unearned income was more than $950 or your earned income was more than $5700 then you must file.

If your parents claim you, another thing to know is that the only way they can after age 19 is if you are a full time college student. Even that has a limit, which is 24 and after that they can only claim you if you have a disability.

There are many people who help with this program such as former USU-CEU employee Hank Savage, and students from the business program. Administrative assistant Linda Jensen also makes a great contribution to the program, along with alumni. Others that take part are Kathy Neumeier from technical support in the USU-CEU information technology department, and a place out of Layton, Utah provides a commercial tax program for free, which is used by the volunteers and other professionals to make doing your taxes quicker.

The work that takes place preparing these taxes are done by USU-CEU business students like Shanika Swasey, Amber Barlow and other volunteers like Linda Jensen, who also prepares returns and files everything electronically. These students take the time to do this for free, but in turn receive a variety of skills from legal to social. Working with computers, the law and people give them the opportunity to practice these skills.

The program goes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday. If any of this sounds useful, you may want to check out room 130 in the Reeves Building and let business students take the headache out of your taxes.

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