All Roads Lead to the Union: Newsletter
“Q & A with Ann House”
Personal Money Management Center
Located on the third floor of the A. Ray Olpin University Union, the Personal Money Management Center (PMMC) has been providing services for university students since its beginnings in 2011. Throughout years of development and a generous donation by the University Credit Union, PMMC is now able to provide counseling services to a larger campus population that includes staff and faculty. As tax season has begun and returns will need to be filed in the upcoming weeks, PMMC will be offering VITA Free Tax Clinics, accompanied by the numerous other counseling services that they currently offer.
More information about the VITA Free Tax Clinics:
We had the opportunity to engage with Ann House, Director of PMMC and a dear friend of Union Administration, to ask questions regarding tax season and other services offered by PMMC.
1) What kind of financial services does the PMMC currently offer to individuals, namely those involving tax preparation?
The Personal Money Management Center, PMMC, partners with Beta Alpha Psi (accounting club) and Michael Blackburn’s accounting class, both in the David Eccles School of Business and the IRS to assist students in preparing their taxes. We feel that this is a great educational opportunity as students will be filing tax returns for years to come. By helping students prepare and file their tax returns, our employees inform students on deductions, how W-4’s work, how to read statements, and what forms and receipts are needed for filing. For dates, times and places as well as a list of items to bring with you, go to the PMMC Website and scroll to the bottom of the page for information on the VITA Free Tax Clinic.
2) What type of workshops/programming does the PMMC perform on a regular basis? And are there any new initiatives that are being offered for 2018?
Our primary program is one-on-one confidential and professional personal financial counseling. Our counselors are accredited through the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education. Students and staff can make appointments online at our website or drop-in. We assist with establishing a responsible use of credit, creation of a financial survival plan for college, education on understanding credit reports and credit scores, budgeting, saving and planning for future needs. We also facilitate monthly workshops. Our most recent workshops have been about ID theft and fraud, making ends meet, how to negotiate salaries with job offers, and couponing to reduce food expenses. Each February we host “U Saves Week” to bring attention to savvy spending and saving techniques.
Our newest initiative is our “Money Cab.” It is a sparkly green golf-cart that will take you to your next class (or to a tax site!) and if you come visit us, we stamp your Money Cab token for a free hot chocolate or coffee. Our goal is to help every student create a spending and savings plan.
3) What sort of timeline do you recommend to individuals when preparing their taxes? Additionally, what is the ideal date someone should have their tax return completed by?
I would recommend that individuals get their taxes done early because most students and staff are eligible to receive tax refunds. That being said, February is our busiest time (and in April just before the deadline) so if you aren’t in a hurry for your tax refund, March is probably the most laid-back time to come in and receive personal services. Plan on taking about one hour to complete your taxes, though it usually takes less time. We are open for walk-ins and do not take appointments. Our tax clinic will be open from February 12th to April 7th this year.
4) Why do you think individuals have a tendency to hesitate to file their taxes?
I think most of us just don’t like to think about taxes. I believe in paying what I owe and watching state and federal lawmakers to see where my taxes are going, but I also don’t believe in paying more than I owe. That is why we will help you get the biggest refund possible. Many students don’t know whether or not they should file, or who is claiming them as a dependent – are their parents claiming them or do they claim themselves? Students have many questions and that is why we are here to help.
5) What is a piece of advice that you can give to individuals regarding personal finances that you find the most beneficial?
If you worked in 2017 and taxes were taken out of your pay, file a tax return. Even if your parents are claiming you as a dependent. Students are eligible for most tax returns and credits such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit. If you are a full-time student seeking a degree and have paid for any part of your education, you probably will get $1,000 tax credit per year (up to 4 yrs).
6) Do you have any other comments/suggestions?
Don’t wait! Collect and save tax forms as they will be ready to access now through the first of February. Also, always save copies of your tax returns. It’ll make filing the next year all that much easier. If you don’t want us to help you with your taxes, say we helped you last year and you are confident that you can do for this past year on your own, use www.myfreetaxes.com. This is free and uses an easy H&R Block software.
File electronically, have your refund direct deposited (it usually will show up in your bank account within 5-7 work-days) and you do not have to pay anything to file your taxes. Someday when you have made it, you can hire a good tax accountant to help you plan and save.