Development Center Receive Prestigious Award
October 14, 2004
The award recognized the Volunteer
Tax and Loan Program (VTLP), an extremely successful program
involving a partnership between government, higher education,
and the private sector. The VTLP program is a cooperative effort
between the Department of Commerce's Division of Investments,
ABDC, University of Alaska, IRS, and the private sector.
The program, developed in 1996, is made up of senior level accounting students, UAA professors, and ABDC staff. These teams help local residents prepare and file personal income tax returns. In turn, the program can help residents retain fishing permits, remain eligible for low-interest state fishing loans or small business loans and grants. The program also offers basic record keeping advice and information on how to obtain financial assistance for fishing operations.
In 2004, the program assisted over 5,800 individuals by visiting 75 rural Alaska communities and assisting another 16 communities by mail. The total amount of money returned to these communities in the form of tax refunds exceeded $ 3.1 million. According to IRS statistics, these refunds generated approximately $20 million in economic activity in the Aleutians, Bristol Bay, Interior, Kodiak, Pribilofs, Yukon Delta, Northwest Arctic Boroughs, Southeast and Western Alaska. Over the life of the program, more than 20,400 Alaskans have received service.
"This program is a great example of how government, higher education and the private sector can work together to create a program that benefits everyone," said Division of Investments Director Greg Winegar. "It saves residents a tremendous amount of time and money by providing tax assistance that is not already available to them in their communities. We are very pleased with the program's achievements and will continue to support it."
VTLP is built on volunteer work and community involvement, and is supported by local banks, businesses, CDQs, Native entities, IRS representatives, and government agencies. Through collaboration with UAA, University of Idaho, and Ithaca College of New York, accounting students get a chance to travel to rural Alaska and use their acquired knowledge to provide assistance to these local residents. Many students return in following years to lead new teams.
The Volunteer Tax and Loan Program (VTLP) has won two other national awards for excellence. The private sector provides financial support for the program including cash, transportation, meals and lodging.
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