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Wallace-Dothan students volunteer with SaveFirst Initiative


Dothan, Ala. – When fifteen Wallace Community College-Dothan (WCCD) students returned to classes for spring semester, they came prepared to study for more than their scheduled classes. The students, including several from Troy-Dothan, attended training sessions on the Wallace Campus to participate in Impact Alabama’s SaveFirst Initiative. The Initiative teaches students about tax law concepts, enabling them to assist low-income working families with their tax returns. 

It was worth their time. According to recently-released 2015 tax year results, the WCCD volunteers prepared tax returns for over 690 families, securing over $1.3 million in tax refunds and saving them $276,000 in commercial tax preparation fees. The local participation helped SaveFirst Alabama achieve a record year statewide with more than 552 volunteers from 20 colleges and universities helping 9,000 working families.

“SaveFirst provides a valuable public service opportunity to our students as well as saving area taxpayers thousands of dollars in high tax preparation fees,” said Delmar Smith, WCCD business technologies division director.  “Our students provide volunteer hours while learning tax law concepts such as determining filing status and dependency exemptions, how to report sources of income, and figuring the eligibility of tax credits.”

During the six-hour training session, students gained proficiency in using web-based tax software. Once they passed the IRS certification test, students volunteered to prepare taxes at the Alfred Saliba Center in Dothan from mid-January to Mid-February. Wallace also allows students to participate in SaveFirst for course credit if they are in a degree program with related skills. Wallace is one of the first colleges in the state to offer the credit alternative.

Impact Alabama’s SaveFirst Initiative works to ensure that families receive tax credits to which they are entitled. The Initiative also promotes financial planning and asset-building. More than 62% of families who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit pay more than $126 million each year in commercial tax preparation fees, an amount that SaveFirst would like to reduce.

For more information about the SaveFirst Initiative, go to impactamerica.com/alabama/.

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