St. Louis Volunteers Rack Up Record Refunds
The St. Louis Tax Assistance Program (TAP) helps working families or elderly residents with total incomes below $26,000 per year. January 27, 2001, TAP launched its fourth season of free tax return preparation at three locations in the St. Louis area: Notre Dame Elementary School, Central Catholic School and Moline Elementary School. (Please do not call schools for information.)
From January 27 until February 24, TAP locations open their doors on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to Noon. Volunteers stay until the day’s returns are complete and reviewed by tax professionals. TAP projects close to $1 million in refunds will be claimed for St. Louisans within the 5 week period ending February 24, 2001.
"TAP is definitely on course for a record year," says Ron Szweda, founder and director of the program. "The 'clients' of the program grow in number each year. We heavily staffed with volunteers to prepare for a large number of families but we still found ourselves needing to turn a few people away February 3rd. We invited the families to come back - we are open 3 more Saturdays in February and we recommend families come early."
Established in 1998 and modeled after a similar program in Chicago, TAP produced refunds of over $1.75 million for 1,863 families in its first 3 years. In 1998, 1999, and 2000, volunteers generated refunds of $175,000, $641,000 and $929,000, respectively. Most of the refund dollars for St. Louis's working families come from exercising the federal Earned Income Credit. Elderly St. Louis residents benefit most from the state property tax and pharmaceutical tax credits.
The program has over 375 volunteers, most of whom are not accountants. Sponsors of this year's TAP program are: 2e Creative, Conner Ash P.C., Firstar Bank, CitiMortgage, Datamax Office Systems, Golden Marketing Resources, Inc., Hazardware, Hope Press, Kohler and Sons, Nexstar Financial, Riverview Gardens School District, Schnuck Markets, Inc., St. Louis Chapter MSCPA.