Emory Report
February 23, 2009
Volume 61, Number 21



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February 23
, 2009
Volunteer filing aid isn’t taxing

By Leslie King

Filing income tax doesn’t have to be a frightening, arduous or even expensive experience. Help is on hand through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service offered for the second year through Emory University Human Resources.

The national tax help program is part of the Atlanta Prosperity Campaign and Emory participates under the auspices of the Atlanta Food Bank.

Randall Cumbaa, organizational development and employee relations in HR, said this year, the food bank scheduled appointments for qualified members of the Emory community. The food bank also vetted potential recipients to make sure they met the Internal Revenue Service’s $42,000 family income ceiling and were not non-resident aliens, who can get assistance with their returns from the controller’s office.

Ing Dye, senior applications developer and analyst in HR, is volunteering with the program for her second year. “I was looking for volunteer opportunities and this was something I thought I could do,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun, a good opportunity and you feel so happy when you help someone save some money.”

Another volunteer, Carolyn Duncan, a senior financial consultant in the controller’s office, is a CPA. She had done her parents’ taxes and had seen them and others pay money for a service they didn’t need to. “It was such a waste,” she says, adding a lot of people feel nervous about doing their own taxes.

“But it’s so simple.” And, she says, “it’s a good opportunity to help the community.” One of the purposes of the service is to help those eligible take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

That’s the reason Kevin Lei, director of VentureLab and associate director of the Office of Technology Transfer, got involved. Some people who do not know the tax laws are not aware of or may not know of tax benefits they can get, he notes.

This is Lei’s first year as a tax assistance volunteer. He describes it as a “learning process for me” as well as the people the program serves. Lei, who says he did his own taxes some years ago, says the one-day training provided by HR was “very good.”

Lei’s advice to those eligible for the service: “This service is a way to maximize benefits and take advantage of them.”

Cumbaa explains that the free tax help, which lasts until April 9, is also available at other sites around metro Atlanta.

To use the service or see if you qualify, visit www.hr.emory.edu/eu/employeestoolkit/otherresources/freetaxes.html.