Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

The Last Word

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

The Last Word

Article excerpt

I direct the Tax Assistance Program of the Accounting Aid Society of Detroit. We partner with the IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program and are one of the oldest free tax preparation programs in the nation. We return millions of dollars to the local economy each year, but our real story is in the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty that a tax refund can provide to a low-income family. We had a great tax season this year, serving more than 12,000 clients.

I retired from a 34-year career with the IRS, where my last position was territory manager covering heavy manufacturing in the Large and Mid-Size Business Division. I managed compliance activities relating to large corporate taxpayers in Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky.

I enjoyed the technical challenges involved with corporate tax but really enjoyed my volunteer experience with the Accounting Aid Society, which goes back over 25 years. The tax law applicable to lower-income taxpayers has its own technical challenges, and in many cases they can't afford the assistance they need. Most of our clients receive refunds, but even if they owe tax, we've provided valuable assistance.

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In early 2001 I was looking at retirement options. Working for the Accounting Aid Society as a staff member was always a thought, but they had staff in place. Then the organization's president called and explained that they needed a new tax director and asked if I knew of anyone interested in the position. As I recall, my response was, "I believe I do."

We have a small but hard-working staff and leverage our volunteer resources as much as possible. This past tax season we operated 26 tax sites staffed by 700 volunteers, so training and scheduling present challenges.

I also was recently named to the IRS Advisory Council, where I'm on the Wage and Investment subgroup. Some of the issues we are looking at for 2008 are refund communications strategy and enhancements to the Web site, www. …

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