This past semester, 38 Rhodes students with other area college students participated in the 2015 SaveFirst tax preparation initiative. They were trained and IRS-certified to serve families at a tax site located at the Binghampton Development Corporation. According to Impact America-Tennessee, which sponsors the program, these volunteers helped more than 400 low-income working families claim $554,000 in refunds and save $120,000 in commercial tax preparation fees. Read about their efforts in Impact America-Tennessee’s latest newsletter.
Ferron Thompson of Rhodes’ Department of Business taught the students a course on taxation and the working poor. Dr. Pamela Church, interim department chair and coordinator of Rhodes’ SaveFirst, coordinated master′s level students in providing supervisory support at the Binghampton site. Tax preparation was provided free of service.
Chris Smith ’15, a business major and future student of the masters of accounting program at Rhodes, said that he was eager to take the course to further his involvement in the Memphis community. “Rhodes is really well known for being very community-oriented and, it being my last semester here, I really wanted to take full advantage of that.”
Becka Hampton ’16, also a business major, said that the most fulfilling part of her experience was “seeing the look on people’s faces when they saw that they were getting a lot of money back that could be put toward other bills.” As a result of her participation in the SaveFirst initiative, Hampton’s goal now is to go into non-profit accounting in order to continue giving back to those who are struggling financially.
Smith adds that interacting with with community members and hearing their stories was the most fulfilling part of his experience. “When doing someone’s taxes, you gain access to some of their most intimate details granting you the opportunity to form a more intimate bond than you usually would volunteering another way.”
Thompson’s course is open to all majors, and both Hampton and Smith recommend that all Rhodes students consider taking the course in the future.