Accounting majors from Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame are helping members of the South Bend community this tax season—for free.In 1972, a new accountancy professor interested in helping people claim their earned income tax credit founded the Tax Assistance Program (TAP). That professor, Ken Milani, now mentors undergraduate students 42 years later as they continue assisting members of the South Bend community.John Cergnul, a former student of Milani’s and TAP volunteer in 1975 and 1976, is now an assistant professor of accounting at Saint Mary’s College. The Notre Dame alumnus said he advises his students to participate in the program for various reasons.Junior Taylor Etzell said the experience with real tax returns takes students far beyond the classroom.“The classroom can give you basic scenarios of what you may encounter when preparing someone’s tax return but the Tax Assistance Program is far superior,” Etzell said. “We are looking at real employees’ W-2s and 1099s and have to pull the correct numbers from the forms and place them where they belong on the federal and state tax returns. It’s all so real life and so exciting.”Cergnul said the earned income tax credit is comparable to a negative tax.“So when you file your tax return you’re getting a refund, you’re just getting your own money back, right? A negative tax is the government giving you money,” Cergnul said.Acquiring the credit is a difficult process, Cergnul said. This is where the student volunteers come in.“The problem is that it’s very complicated just to see who qualifies and then to make the calculations as to how much the credit is and how much you’re entitled to,” Cergnul said. “That was the genesis of the program and it remains so today.”The tax assistance the program offers is completely free for participants, Cergnul said.“We’re doing tax returns for people and we don’t charge them,” he said. “That’s the best part of the program. The second best part of the program is what the students learn.”STEPH WULZ | The Observer Cergnul said the practical application makes the lessons in accounting classrooms tangible and the weight of responsibility becomes more real.“The third big benefit from this is the students’ poise and confidence. They’re sitting across the table from real people with real dollars, real taxes,” Cergnul said. “In class it’s hypothetical. Take a look at Problem 35, oh heck I got it wrong.”Etzell said the professors running the program have given her both confidence and the necessary skills.“My professors — Cergnul, in particular — have instilled in me a confidence that must be used when preparing a return,” Etzell said. “Milani has taught me how to look at the correct information and extract meaning from simple interview questions we direct toward the taxpayers. Because of his direction, I know what exactly I’m looking for and how I am going to go about finding that information.”Cergnul said students are invariably anxious when they start out, but gain confidence over time.“By the end of the filing season, they’ve grown in poise and their ability to communicate with other people — professional communication — is enhanced,” Cergnul said.This poise ultimately helps students as they interview for jobs, he said.“I mean they’ve actually sat across the table with a real client and did a real transaction and people who don’t go through this program haven’t done that,” Cergnul said. “Those communication skills translate very well in interviews.”Etzell said the work can be difficult given the sheer number of clients students are required to assist.“Professor Milani, along with Professor Cergnul, have taught me how to be perform under pressure,” she said. “We have lines of people waiting for us to prepare their returns so it is of utmost importance that we move efficiently, yet effectively, through everyone’s paperwork and return forms.”Etzell said as challenging as the work is, it is rewarding to help out members of the local community.“I have been given the necessary tools to perform well in this program, and now my duty is to help the community,” Etzell said. “Detecting when people have earned certain deductions or credits is a task in and of itself, but again, the reward of helping others makes all the work so worth it.“My favorite part is seeing the people come in looking rather flustered and then them leaving a little while later with a sense of relief on their faces.”Junior Grace Harvey said TAP has helped hone her knowledge of tax practices and concepts.“Even though my internship this summer with Grant Thorton is more focused on corporate tax rather than personal income tax, [TAP is] an awesome opportunity,” Harvey said.The two credit hours contribute toward the 150 credit hours required to sit for the CPA exam, Harvey said.Harvey said that participating students will help file tax returns in various locations throughout South Bend with tax filings due April 15.Tags: Ken Milani, TAP, Tax Assistance Program, taxes
Middlebury College,Middlebury College and the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, one of the state’s leading backers of emerging high-tech businesses, have agreed to a deal that will provide the organization with a beachhead in Middlebury.The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), which currently maintains a facility on the campus of the University of Vermont in Burlington, has agreed to purchase the Old Courthouse at 5 Court Street in downtown Middlebury from the college for $2 million. Middlebury will then lease back most of the Courthouse space from VCET. The building will continue to house staff members from the Office of College Advancement, Middlebury’s fundraising operation, which also occupies Painter House, directly across Court Street from the Courthouse.The purchase and sale agreement was signed by Middlebury College and VCET officials on February 18, and a closing is expected in early March.‘VCET is Vermont’s leading technology incubation organization, and its programs have supported the development and growth of close to 30 businesses,’ said Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz. ‘Middlebury has benefited in the past from its partnership with VCET, which has provided internship opportunities for many Middlebury students, and we anticipate those opportunities for our students will expand. In addition, we believe VCET’s presence at the Courthouse will be a great asset to the college, the town and Addison County, increasing the economic vitality of the region through its support of new businesses and through the eventual creation of new jobs. We look forward to working with VCET to help bring alumni and friends of the college back to the region to begin new businesses or expand existing ones.’VCET looks forward to further strengthening its ties with the college, according to David Bradbury, president of VCET. ‘What attracted us to Middlebury was an active willingness and desire on the part of the college to encourage economic development in Addison County and Vermont,’ Bradbury said. ‘There is a strong entrepreneurial environment in Middlebury, in large part thanks to the college and its alumni and students. And Middlebury has always exhibited a very strong ‘plays-well-with-others’ vibe. That’s a compelling advantage in this age of global collaboration.’Bradbury says that U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., along with the Vermont Technology Council and UVM’s Dr. John Evans, conceived of VCET as a technology incubator serving the state of Vermont. Leahy secured federal appropriations from the Small Business Administration and Housing and Urban Development to buy and set up two facilities, and to support the organization. One facility is at UVM’s Farrell Hall and the second will be at 5 Court Street in Middlebury. The senator and his senior staff are also actively engaged in helping the firms with which VCET works. ‘It’s truly remarkable how the senator personally assists next generation employers in Vermont,’ said Bradbury.Said Senator Leahy, ‘Middlebury has been a leader in fostering entrepreneurship in Vermont, and the agreement with VCET forges a partnership that will build new businesses and create new jobs for Vermonters. I commend the college for having the vision and commitment to spur future economic development in Addison County and Vermont.’The benefit to the college and the town of collaborating with VCET was demonstrated most recently in December 2010, when eCorp English, a company based in Malta that teaches English as a second language to business executives, announced that it would move its headquarters and IT development division to Middlebury, creating about 35 new jobs locally, and possibly more down the road. VCET and Middlebury College worked with several other Vermont organizations to help persuade eCorp English to choose Vermont in general and Middlebury in particular.In its nearly six years in existence, VCET has worked with about 30 companies, which have attracted $20 million in investment from public and private sources. The companies now employ about 150 people, up and down the state, from Woodstock to Middlebury to Burlington. And they’re hiring: Bradbury says that the companies now have about 45 job openings. ‘Our laser focus is on creating next-generation jobs for this generation of Vermonters,’ he said. ‘Momentum and results are accelerating, and we see great potential here in the Middlebury region.’Bradbury expects the Courthouse to serve as an occasional office for him and for other VCET executives, and to provide, eventually, space for ‘entrepreneurs in residence,’ and possibly for start-ups in need of short-term physical space. But he points out that the VCET model is more about ‘the talent cloud’ ‘ the people they work with, and their networking potential in support of emerging employers ‘ than about just providing a physical home for early-stage businesses.Bradbury says that having a base of operations in Middlebury ‘will make it clear that we really do serve the whole state,’ adding that it will be easier to work with companies in central and southern Vermont from a hub in Middlebury. ‘Partnering with Middlebury College’s leading innovation and entrepreneurial programs makes a lot of sense for VCET and our ecosystem of partners,’ he said. ‘And, most importantly, it will allow us to offer more help to Vermont’s entrepreneurs. It’s really a triple win, for us, for Middlebury and for Vermont.’About the Courthouse: The distinctive red brick building at 5 Court Street in downtown Middlebury, was built in 1883 on land originally owned by one of Middlebury’s founders, Gamaliel Painter. At one time hailed as the most beautiful courthouse in the state, the building replaced the original wooden courthouse, which was built in 1796 on what was then called Court Square. The brick courthouse was itself eventually replaced by the Mahady Courthouse, built in 1995-1996 just a few yards to the southeast. The college has owned the Old Courthouse since then, and it has been home at one time or another to Middlebury’s Center for Educational Technology, the Communications Office, and College Advancement.About VCET: The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies is a leading-edge technology firm incubation program serving all of Vermont. Select, high opportunity firms are provided with substantive business mentoring, flexible office space, shared resources, venture capital, entrepreneurial workshops and access to VCET’s proprietary network of venture development professionals, investors and economic development partners. VCET is an independent 501 (c) 3 public benefit corporation. For more information, visit the website: www.VermontTechnologies.com(link is external).February 24, 2011 Middlebury College
â€œSunday (today) will be special for everyone who loves Tottenham, but the future is exciting. It is important we take the soul, smell of WHL to the new stadium. Itâ€™s sad and exciting.â€United boss Jose Mourinho says that with just 15 players available, changes should be expected with the hectic final weeks his side face where they will play four games – including the Europe League final against Ajax.Mourinho said: â€œI have to give some minutes to everyone because we have only 15 players, we donâ€™t have more, so I have to play them. But I have to play them mixed. I have to play them by periods and I donâ€™t have another solution.â€œWe can win a trophy and by winning that trophy we can play Champions League next season, so thatâ€™s the game. We are not going to say that matches are not important matches. They are important. But we have one that is more important than others.â€Tottenhamâ€™s Danny Rose will miss out on a farewell appearance at White Hart Lane as he continues his recovery from a knee injury. The left-back has been sidelined since the 0-0 draw with Sunderland on January 31 and though he has returned to first-team training, the 26-year-old is short of match fitness and wonâ€™t be risked.Pochettino will be without three youngsters for the match; Cameron Carter-Vickers (USA), Joshua Onomah and Kyle Walker-Peters (both England) have joined up with their respective nations in preparation for the FIFA U20 World Cup.Alongside Rose, Eric Lamela (hip) and Harry Winks (ankle) continue their rehabilitation and will not feature in the remaining games of the season.Marouane Fellaini serves the final game of his three-match ban and Eric Bailly is likely to start following his red card against Celta Vigo on Thursday.Luke Shaw (foot), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee), Marcos Rojo (knee), Ashley Young (hamstring) and Timothy Fosu-Mensah (shoulder) are out for the season and the United boss could be tempted to include U23 starlets Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay after the pair made their debuts against Arsenal last weekend.Spursâ€™ only win in their last 15 home Premier League games against Manchester United came in last seasonâ€™s 3-0 victory (D6 L8). That 3-0 defeat for United is the only time theyâ€™ve conceded in their last five Premier League games against Spurs, keeping four clean sheets.Jose Mourinho has failed to win on his last four Premier League visits to White Hart Lane (D2 L2) and hasnâ€™t won a league game there since August 2005, when his Chelsea side defeated Spurs 2-0.Spurs have lost more Premier League games against United than against any other opponent (32) – indeed, in their top-flight history Spurs have lost 77 games against them, eight more than they have against anyone else.Tottenham could go unbeaten at home for the first time in a league season since 1964/65 (W16 D2 L0 this season).Jose Mourinho hasnâ€™t seen his side score in an away league game against any of the current top six clubs since January 1 2015 in a 5-3 defeat at Tottenham while Chelsea manager. Four of the seven games since have finished 0-0 (L3).Harry Kane has scored against 23 of the 25 clubs he has faced with Tottenham in the Premier League – though heâ€™s yet to score in six appearances against United.Three of Unitedâ€™s four Premier League defeats this season have been in games played on a Sunday immediately after a European match.Spurs have won their last 13 home league matches – one short of their club record run of 14 between January and October 1987.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Tottenham Hotspur will aim to consolidate second place in the Premiership as they host Manchester United in the last match to be played at White Hart Lane as they make plans to move to a new ground. Todayâ€™s encounter is expected to be a highly emotional affair with Tottenham vacating the stadium that has been their home for 118 years and Mauricio Pochettino says his side are â€˜focusedâ€™.He said: â€œWeâ€™re still disappointed about last Friday. Training from Monday to Wednesday was difficult. We missed a big chance to put pressure on Chelsea. Before that game, we thought it was possible to win the title. We are okay now. We are focused on United.