Handling your taxes


Staff Intern

Have you filed your tax returns yet? If not, there is less than a month to file paperwork as the income tax returns for 2007 are due on April 15.

The Oakland Post surveyed 25 students, of which 16 said that they already filed their tax returns. Six students didn’t need to file tax returns because they didn’t work. Two students started preparing the forms but haven’t finished yet. And one student said that he hasn’t even started preparing the forms yet.

The majority of the students said that they had assistance filing their tax returns from either their parents, Certified Public Accountants (CPA) or from tax-preparing companies such as H&R Block.

OU student Shawn Proctor believes it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to taxes.

“I’m pretty sure I could’ve done this myself, but I didn’t want to take any chances,” said Proctor. “So I got my documents together with my parents’ help and went to H&R Block.”

Only four students said they prepared and filed taxes by themselves, using their knowledge or computer software.

Only one said he had yet to receive their refund.


So what do OU students want to spend their tax refunds on? About one-fourth said that they plan on paying bills with it and about one-third said they want to spend it on doing something fun.

A few students said they want to spend their refund money shopping.

“I want to buy a part for my guitar, and then I want to spend the rest in bars,” said student Nick Hillard.

One student is putting his money toward buying a Nintendo Wii.

What can you do if you haven’t filed your tax returns yet?

There is always the old-fashioned way, which is picking up a phonebook and looking up a CPA firm.


If you don’t want to pay for a CPA but still want some cheap assistance, there are computer programs and books available to help you. Two examples are TaxCut and TaxACT. You can find these tax-assistance software CDs in stores or online for under $20. In fact, you can order a TaxACT CD on Amazon.com for free.

Many cities offer free help in preparing taxes. These cities provide certified volunteers to help taxpaying residents — usually lower-and middle-class taxpayers — to prepare tax return forms and file them. Information on these services can be found online on the cities’ Web sites or at community centers.

The Accounting Aid Society provides free assistance to individuals in Michigan who earn less than $20,000 a year and families who earn less than $40,000 a year. This is part of the Internal Revenue Service-sponsored program called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Trained volunteers are available in 25 different locations in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb and Livingston counties. To see the list of sites and times, visit www.accountingaidsociety.org.


The IRS provides free online assistance and e-filing services at www.irs.gov for people with a gross-income of $52,000 or less — currently 70 percent of American taxpayers. Students can visit TaxACT for free at www.taxact.com, regardless of their income. It helps people prepare and file their tax returns electronically.


Assistance in filing tax returns was also available this year through OU organizations for students. Oakland University does not offer a tax assistance program to its students, but there have been events held to provide help for filing tax returns.

OU’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter participates in Volunteer Income Tax Assistance every January through the Accounting Aid Society of Oakland County.

“Once students have been educated on federal and state tax regulations impacting low-income taxpayers, they are asked to volunteer for a minimum of three Saturdays to actually prepare tax returns for individuals who meet the threshold requirements for free assistance,” said Sandra Pelfrey, an associate professor of accounting. “Many times our students volunteer more than the minimum required.”

The International Students and Scholars Office held seminars restricted to only international students and scholars on Feb. 12 and March 5. In these seminars, a tax preparer and a certified accountant helped attendees learn how to prepare and file tax returns as foreign nationals.

David Archbold, the director of International Students and Scholars Office, estimated that only about 45 of the 409 international students and scholars at Oakland University attended the seminars.

“I hope that the rest found other ways to file their tax returns,” said Archbold.