Tax Veteran Lends HU Community a Hand
Dr. P. Michael McLain, lecturer in the School of Business, has become accustomed to providing students with extra Spring Break spending money. For the past nine years, McLain, along with HU accounting students, has served the HU community and the Hampton Roads community by volunteering to do tax returns for free.
On Feb. 14, At the national conference of the Academy of Economics and Finance, McLain was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Institute of Finance Case Research (IFCR) in Nashville, Tenn. McLain is a member of the IFCR, an academic organization with the leading research case journal in finance, he recently aided in the establishment of the organizations non-profit status.
"Mike is one of our most productive researchers in the finance area," stated Dr. Sid Credle, dean of the School of Business. "Recently we published a case on banking that took three years to complete. McClain has dedicated his career to helping others by preparing free tax returns to the general population and the homeless. He has even organized investor protection seminars, he is very deserving of this national honor."
Recently, McLain gave the Student Connection a moment of his time and answered some questions about tax season.
Q. You were recently awarded for your service to other organizations, why is service important to you?
A. As a member of an academic organization it is important for members of the community and the students to see faculty being active in community organizations.
Q. Why is it important for students to give back to the community?
A. Not only does community service provide a service to others but it also gives students an opportunity to prepare for the workforce. Taxation is on the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam; with community service, students can perform individual tax returns in preparation for the exam. It is also an opportunity for students to apply tax laws and become accustomed with all types of clients.
Q. How are you able to provide the service of free tax preparation to HU students?
A. The Internal Revenue Systems (IRS) provides the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The IRS provides us with the tax filing software as well. We are able to prepare taxes for students, faculty, staff and other members of the community that are interested.
Q. What are some of the benefits for students who have them prepared through you and VITA?
A. Well, at other tax preparation companies, like the storefront preparation companies, students will pay $150 or more to have their taxes prepared. We do taxes for free and we give a lot of money back. More than 90 percent of the students who prepare their taxes through us receive money back. We provide direct deposit into your account and the money is usually in your account less than two weeks after you file. Students usually need the money; they also need the returns for financial aid.
Q. It is important for us to create an easy way for students to comply to tax laws?
A. When they are compliant in college they will more than likely continue throughout their careers. The VITA center here at HU is very popular and is open year-round. Our busiest month is February, however the traffic remains consistent throughout tax season. On average we file around 500 tax returns a year. To-date we have filed 392. Of those 392 returns, we have returned $34,966 of federal funds.
McLain and student volunteers prepare taxes in Buckman Hall on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-Naima A. Gethers