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February 16, 2001

Calvin Offers Tax Assistance

In a pleasant, well-lit basement room at Baxter Community Center, (located in the Grand Rapids center city), five Calvin students sit scattered at various tables, paired with men, women and families. Together, they pore over all sorts of forms and papers.

At one desk, Calvin student Tim Vogelzang concentrates on a tax form, conferring with Curtis Beeks about what he wants to do with some property.

It's a typical scene lately as Calvin Business and Economics majors are helping to even the playing field for some low-income families by offering tax services for free that otherwise could run into the hundreds of dollars.

"Calvin has been doing this program for about 20 years," says Craig Haan, an Accounting major and graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, who coordinates this year's program. "Itís been a tremendous success in the past and will also be very successful this year."

Together Haan and United Church Outreach Ministry (UCOM), Goodwill, and Baxter Community Center are pairing 40 Calvin student volunteers with local families.

"The population they are working with is working families at or below poverty level," says Jan Williams, Program Director for UCOM (located in the Roosevelt park neighborhood).

Many of the people who come to UCOM for tax help have not filed in several years, and therefore have to file former taxes in addition to current ones. On top of this, many residents of the neighborhood are primarily Spanish speaking. Having a Calvin student to explain the forms can make a big difference.

"Our objective is to find as many tax credits as we can for these people," says Craig Haan. "The people are very nice and are generally very excited when they see they are going to get a refund."

--written by media relations writer Abe Huyser-Honig (class of 2004)

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Contact Phil de Haan.