Outstanding Extension Program Award
USU Extension Rural Tax Education Program Wins Award
LOGAN ? A rural tax education program hosted by Utah State University Extension was selected to receive the 2011 Western Agricultural Economics Association Outstanding Extension Program Award. Ruby Ward, USU Extension economist, co-chair of the National Farm Income Tax Extension Committee and project lead for RuralTax.org, accepted the award June 30 at the Canadian Agricultural Economics/Western Agricultural Economics Association meeting in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Rural Tax Education is a joint project of Extension specialists from 15 land-grant universities around the country. The specialists received a $50,000 grant from the USDA-Risk Management Agency to create the web site, RuralTax.org, which was launched in the fall of 2010. The project goal is to provide farmers, ranchers and other producers with a source for agriculturally related income and self-employment tax information that is current and easy to understand, thus allowing both agricultural producers and Extension educators to better understand the information and incorporate it into their programs.
Ward said as more U.S. Department of Agriculture programs were linked in multiple ways to federal income tax returns, there was an increasing need to have accurate information available for farmers, ranchers and other producers.
“We are pleased that one of our great Extension programs is being recognized,” said Charles W. Gay, associate vice president and associate director for USU Extension.
Ward said the information is written in plain language that is accessible to farmers and ranchers, and that rather than just a collection of materials, it is a web site that can be continually updated to reflect changes in tax laws. All of the materials on the web site were reviewed to determine that it was both technically accurate and understandable by the target audience.
“The committee has a 50-plus year history of working with the Internal Revenue Service to edit Publication 225: The Farmer’s Tax Guide,” she said. “In an era of deep budget cuts, having a resource that combines the expertise from multiple universities helps provide quality education to the public using limited resources.”
The RuralTax.org web site includes 20 peer-reviewed fact sheets on such topics as the definition of a farmer, depreciation, and hobby loss rules. RuralTax.org also includes a sample federal income tax return with all schedules and accompanying line-by-line explanations for each form and links to other verified information.
Since going live in October 2010, the web site has had more than 14,000 unique visitors, and many producers have benefited from the materials generated by the site. Materials have been used in programming in each of the 15 states involved, as well as additional states, and web site content was used in nine presentations to address the unique issues faced by Native American audiences.
For further information about the award or the project, contact Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer: Julene Reese from the Herald Journal
from the Herald Journal