Hershey, Pa. (April 7, 2003) - Some Pennsylvania CPAs are banding together to offer free tax preparation to families of any military members in their state who were called up to active duty on short notice.

The idea quickly grew from a local to a statewide effort within a week and could expand throughout the country, according to Brion Smoker, president of Hershey, Pa.-based Smoker, Smith & Associates who dreamed up the idea.

“The whole thing started when I was preparing taxes for [army] Col. Charles Barry and I asked him what my firm could to do help out military families,” Smoker said. “Within a week we got our state society involved and it could get even bigger than that, we hope.”

Smoker said spouses or other family members of military personnel visit the PICPA web site at www.picpa.org and click on the visitors' section for information about a participating CPA in their area.

In many cases military personnel may qualify for an extension of the April 15 tax-filing deadline, since the federal Tax Code allows a 180-day extension for military personnel assigned to a combat zone.

PICPA is coordinating the statewide effort, along with INPACT Americas -- a national network of CPAs. INPACT told its members to lobby their respective state CPA societies to follow Pennsylvania’s actions.

“We sent out information right away to all our member firms to get other state societies involved, but we haven’t heard back just yet,” said Mara Ambrose, INPACT’s executive director. “I think about these families’ lives disrupted so quickly and this is one thing they won’t have to worry about.”

-- Seth Fineberg

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