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Ohio State business students volunteer, prepare low-income tax returns

Student volunteer with the Fisher/OSU Tax Clinic prepare free federal and state tax returns.

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The Fisher/OSU Tax Clinic aims to save some Central Ohioans a little extra cash this tax season.
Students volunteer with the clinic operated through the Fisher College of Business to prepare free federal and state tax returns to low-income taxpayers in the Columbus area. In 2012 alone, students completed 300 tax returns and found taxpayers about $450,000 in returns, said William Raabe, an OSU accounting professor and Certified Public Accountant who founded the clinic.
The 2013 tax season marks the 10th year of the clinic.
More than 60 graduate and undergraduate students volunteer for six weeks from the last week in January to the first week in March, and prepare tax returns at the Godman Guild community center at 303 E. Sixth Ave. on Fridays and Saturdays, Raabe said.
Taxes are due April 15.
“The main beneficiaries are the taxpayers, because they get our services for free,” Raabe said. “The benefit to the students is that they get real work, with real money, with real taxpayers.”
Raabe said the experiences students have outside the classroom can help when looking for jobs in the future.
“It’s a huge positive for their resumes,” Raabe said. “Many students have gotten interviews and jobs they wouldn’t have gotten because the interviewer saw that on their resume.”
Sarah Hambley, a fourth-year in accounting, has volunteered with the Fisher/OSU Tax Clinic for the last two years.
“It’s a great experience because you’re working with clients directly and you have to establish trust with them quickly,” Hambley said. “It’s also a good way for us to become comfortable and make decisions within the industry.”
Hambley said the experience goes beyond what she could learn in a classroom.
“We take a tax course, but this is a different experience,” Hambley said.
Patrick Kelly, a third-year in accounting, is volunteering at the clinic for the first time this year.
“I had to put myself in a new situation and hope people trust me with their money,” Kelly said. “It’s a different kind of leadership role.”
Heather Carrozo, a graduate student in accounting, said it is fulfilling to give back to the community.
“This is probably the biggest check some of these (taxpayers) will get back all year, so it’s a good feeling knowing you helped them get it back,” Carrozo said.
Carrozo said she uses this experience to apply what she has learned in class.
“For me personally, it’s reinforced what I’ve learned throughout my education,” Carrozo said. “It’s great working together with undergrad students outside the classroom to expand learning.”
Raabe said he expects the clinic to prepare about 300 tax returns this year and help get about $500,000 back to taxpayers.
He said he has been pleased with the student volunteers who have been willing to give up Fridays and Saturdays to help out with the program.
“I’m amazed,” Raabe said. “They have good attitudes and they work hard.”

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