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By David J. Cieslak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 17, 1998

Free service helps students crunch tax numbers

As April 15 draws near, many University of Arizona students will need to fill out those pesky tax forms - but help is not far for those who need assistance.

The UA's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program members began helping students figure out their tax returns Saturday.

The service, held in various rooms throughout the Memorial Student Union, will continue each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday until April 15.

The service is free for students because the Internal Revenue Service pays for the staff's training and handbooks.

Charles Comparato, the tax program's coordinator, said students should bring all their applicable IRS forms to the help sessions.

Volunteers will then take them through the filing process.

"We walk them through it and show them where to write the numbers," Comparato said.

Accounting graduate student Ying Quan said volunteers must complete 16 hours of IRS training and pass a test before receiving permission to help others with their taxes.

Comparato said the training is beneficial because some tax forms are difficult - especially forms international students must complete.

Wildlife and fishery sciences sophomore Zee Mpofu, who was one of 10 students Saturday to get help with her taxes, said the program was beneficial.

"They know what they're doing and I don't," she said. "I couldn't have done it on my own."

Most of the program's volunteers are members of UA's Accounting Club or Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting fraternity.

Volunteer Devin Cruise, an accounting sophomore, said an accounting professor recommended the program to him.

"It's a good thing to put on my résumé," Cruise said.

Karen Drezdon, an accounting and finance junior, said she volunteers between three and four hours each week.

"It seems like a really good experience," Drezdon said.

Other Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program sites located around Tucson are also staffed by volunteers.

Last year, the UA's program served over 700 students. Comparato, who joined the program three weeks ago, said he hopes to help 800 students this year.

But Comparato said he will be satisfied even if very few students show up.

"If we helped only two people a day, I'd just be happy I helped someone," he said.

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