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NU again offering free tax preparation Volunteer program runs February through April

Nothing, they say, is certain, except death and taxes.

And maybe a popular program that is continuing this tax season at Niagara University, beginning Feb. 9.

While it might not be as inevitable as taxes themselves, the program, now in its 31st year, offers free tax-preparation assistance to eligible taxpayers in the Niagara Falls area.

"People are very thankful the university is continuing to provide this service," Niagara University spokesman Michael J. Freedman told The Buffalo News. "Especially with the state of the economy. This is something I would recommend to anyone in that situation to take advantage of the opportunity."

Sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is staffed by students from the university's College of Business Administration, who prepare and electronically file federal and state tax returns free for elderly and low-income taxpayers.

The award-winning program was run for many years by Alfonso Oddo, a well-known figure on the Niagara campus who retired last June. The program's new coordinator is James Ingham, an assistant accounting professor.

"I am honored and humbled to be the one selected to oversee this very important community service," Ingham said. "Al's shoes are big ones to fill, but I am excited to have the opportunity to advance the university's mission in this meaningful way."

"It's a big challenge, and I'm looking forward to it," he added. "At Niagara, community service is a part of our expectations. This gives the students an opportunity to realize those goals."

Freeman said that in addition to providing service to the community, the program is a great opportunity for the students themselves. About 50 to 60 students, many of them volunteers, participate each year.

"They get a chance to roll up their sleeves," he said. "Any student would love the chance to get out of the classroom and apply what they have learned in a real-life setting."

Members of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor society for accounting, and the college's Accounting Society also participate in the program.

About 500 to 600 people take advantage of the program every year, Freeman said.

The program will take place from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m in Room 205 of St. Vincent's Hall on the following dates:

Feb. 9, 14, 16, 21, 23 and 28; March 1, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27 and 29; and April 3, 10, 12 and 17.

Appointments are not required.

The Niagara University program has garnered national accolades from Beta Alpha Psi, an organization with more than 300,000 members in 289 chapters on college and university campuses around the world.