With tax deadline approaching, MSA offers to file student taxes

The service, located in Coffman Union, is free and should take about an hour to complete.

Elizabeth Cook

Even though many students spend their college years in a low tax bracket, there is some on-campus help to get their taxes in on time.

where to go

Free tax filing
What: MSA is offerring free tax filing assistance to students.
When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Monday until April 16, 2007
Where: Room 235 Coffman Union

Students can go to Coffman Union every Monday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. now through April 16 to get their taxes done for free by the Minnesota Student Association.

This is the second year the Internal Revenue Service sponsored MSA to do student taxes, said Steve Wang, a 2006 University graduate who helped start the program last spring.

Interested students can drop off their forms and show an ID to MSA members to find out how large their refund check will be – or how much they have to pay back to Uncle Sam. The process takes about an hour.

MSA President Max Page said the service is for students who might not know how or where to go to do their taxes.

“This is the first time a lot of students have to do taxes on their own,” he said.

MSA members go through training on how to enter the information into the electronic system. There are also IRS staff on call for any questions that might arise, Wang said.

The service could be useful to busy students who don’t have time to go somewhere and have them done, said Laura Lennartson, a first-year chemical engineering student.

If her parents didn’t do her taxes for her, she said she’d consider bringing them to MSA.

Lennartson said there might be a risk of having forms filled out incorrectly, but that’s a chance students could be willing to take.

“That’s the risk you have to take if you want them done quickly by MSA,” she said.

If there is any concern about other students handling their important financial information, Wang makes it clear the student who brought the information won’t be held responsible.

“Students are no way held accountable for what we did,” Wang said.

If something is filed incorrectly, the IRS will contact the student and ask them for the necessary paperwork, Wang said.

While MSA assures students they couldn’t get in trouble through faulty filing, Barry Miller, a first-year mathematics student, said he would rather do the paperwork himself to assure it’s correct.

He said it could be very easy to mix up numbers on the forms, which could really get students in trouble.

“The IRS will get you, especially if it’s bad for them,” Miller said. “If you short yourself, it’s OK, but if you short them it’s not.”

Page said last year a student came in with their tax information, including a car they won on “The Price is Right.” If that happens again, they’ll have to be directed somewhere else.

“If it’s too complicated, we can direct them to someone,” he said.

Last year, the service was only offered a few nights before taxes were due, Wang said, and MSA members were filling eight to nine returns an hour, Wang said.

Now with increased hours, MSA is planning for more students to file.

“If there’s a lot of people, we’ll increase hours. We don’t want to turn anyone away,” he said.