WMU prof takes tax help to indigenous villages in Alaska

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Kwigillingok, Alaska.

Kwigillingok, Alaska (Photo credit: Fritz Allhoff)

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—They might be off the grid and off the road system. But rural Alaskans are getting some much-needed help preparing their taxes thanks to a Western Michigan University professor and a group of accounting students.

This is the second year Dr. Fritz Allhoff, associate professor of philosophy, has led a tax-assistance delegation to remote villages in western Alaska. The program is supported by the Internal Revenue Service, an Anchorage-based nonprofit and various tribal associations, as well as a partnership with WMU's Haworth College of Business.

Four villages over eight days

Photo of Dr. Allhoff and the students who traveled to Alaska.

The WMU team (Photo credit: Andrea Gentile)

Allhoff and the four-student entourage recently visited four villages over eight days—Goodnews Bay, Kongiganak, Kwigillingok and Platinum—filing approximately 400 tax returns. They rode around on snow machines, ate whale and walrus, and took steam baths with tribal elders. Kinsey Staver, an accounting graduate student from Lawrenceville, Illinois, noted that "while temperatures were cold, the villagers kept us warm with their hospitality." Other students involved in the excursion were Jill Clark of Battle Creek, Andrea Gentile of Livonia, and Madelyn Olsen of Fraser.

The collaboration will continue in future years. Anyone interested in participating is invited to contact Allhoff for more details at (269) 387-4503 or fritz.allhoff@wmich.edu.

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