University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
April 2, 2008
Contact: Leigh Patton, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6211

USA Students Prepare Tax Returns for Working Families
Student Efforts Save Local Families $25,000 in Fees

University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business accounting students recently prepared more than 130 returns for working families, helping them to secure $160,000 in tax refunds and saving them $25,000 in commercial tax preparation fees.

USA students played a critical role in a statewide initiative sponsored by Impact Alabama: A Student Service Initiative.  USA students collaborated with 230 additional students from eleven other campuses statewide to assist low-income, working families.

The 2008 tax season presented the first year of collaboration between USA and Impact Alabama, and the SaveFirst initiative is expected to grow dramatically as word spreads of its availability.

USA Accounting Professor Mark Segal said, “SaveFirst is a valuable program which benefits participating communities, taxpayers and volunteers. Our students obtained desirable, real-world tax preparation experience while helping qualified low-income taxpayers get needed tax preparation assistance without the cost commonly associated with use of a paid tax preparer.”

USA student Tracey Smith, a junior accounting major, said, “SaveFirst is a rewarding experience for both the volunteers and the community members who take advantage of it. Many people who would otherwise have no help on their tax forms were greatly benefited as a result.”

Abusive practices such as payday loan schemes, check-cashing operations, and predatory lending target low-income individuals and dramatically erode their earnings.  Individuals who rely on commercial tax preparers simply to access the Earned Income Tax Credit or other tax credits to which they are entitled greatly reduce the efficacy of these programs, especially if those individuals make use of predatory refund anticipation loans.  SaveFirst students play an essential role in providing a better alternative to ensure that low-income families receive their full tax benefits and credits.

Impact Alabama is the state’s first nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and implementing substantive service-learning projects in coordination with colleges and universities across Alabama.  Impact Alabama presents a vision of Alabama in which its young citizens understand, appreciate, and engage actively in civic life—contributing their diverse talents to solve local and state problems, influence public policy, and pursue the common good.

For more information, contact Stephen Black, president of Impact Alabama, at

The University of South Alabama

Since its founding in 1963, the University of South Alabama has been one of Alabama’s fastest growing universities, currently enrolling more than 14,000 students in a wide range of academic programs in Allied Health Professions, Arts and Sciences, Mitchell College of Business, Computer and Information Sciences, Continuing Education and Special Programs, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The University has awarded 60,000 degrees.

In addition to teaching and research, USA is one of the largest health care providers in the Mobile region, with its faculty physicians and two hospitals – Children’s & Women’s and USA Medical Center ­­– involved in more than a quarter million patient encounters annually.
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