Lindsey Wilson offers tax help

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By The Staff

Lindsey Wilson College accounting students will make the tax season a little less stressful for low-income, moderate-income and elderly taxpayers by offering free tax preparation assistance.

Under the direction of Associate Professor of Accounting Gary Lee Gibson, five Lindsey Wilson accounting students will offer the free service from 7 to 10 p.m. ET every Wednesday through April 9.

The service will not be offered on March 19, which is during the college's spring break.

The free service - which is sponsored by the AARP Foundation - will be offered in the college's Academic Success Center.

In addition to helping area residents prepare their federal and state returns, Lindsey Wilson students can also transmit the forms electronically for the taxpayers.

"We can also print the returns in case the taxpayer prefers to have a hard copy and mail them in to the state and federal governments," Gibson said.

Although the free service at Lindsey Wilson can handle forms with itemized deductions, it cannot accommodate taxpayers who have farm or rental income, nor can the service work with business income if the business has inventory, depreciation or expenses above a certain amount, Gibson said.

For the process to run smoothly, taxpayers should bring last year's tax return if they can locate it. Taxpayers should also bring a Social Security card for every person listed on their return, as well as a photo ID for the person who receives the free service.

The Lindsey Wilson students will use tax software and reference materials that have been provided by the IRS, Gibson said.

"The one difference between our service and a paid preparer is that our students do not sign the returns - the responsibility for the return stays with the taxpayer," Gibson said. "We also do not retain any of the taxpayer's financial information. At the end of the tax season a backup of the information is sent to the IRS and all information on our computers is erased. Information is strictly confidential."

This is the first time Lindsey Wilson has offered the free tax service to low-income, moderate-income and elderly residents in the region.

"This is a great experience for our students," said Gibson, who is a certified public accountant. "It's one thing for them to read about theory in a book, but it's another thing to work with a real person's tax facts and help them do their taxes."

Lindsey Wilson's accounting program has graduated an impressive list of alumni of the last several years. Graduates have landed jobs with Big Four accounting firms, regional and local accounting firms, and state government. Others have headed to graduate school.

"If students will apply themselves in our accounting classes, they usually don't have any trouble getting multiple job offers when they graduate," Gibson said. "What makes our program so strong is the personal relationships that are developed between the professors and their students. We push them to learn as much as they can and we constantly try to motivate them."

For more information, contact Gibson at gibsong@lindsey.edu or (270) 384-8478.