Tax-​​filing season can be a whirl­wind of con­fu­sion and stress, and lower-​​income filers often count on their refunds as a sig­nif­i­cant finan­cial boost to get them through the year. That’s why North­eastern Uni­ver­sity accounting pro­fes­sors in the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion spent part of their week­ends this tax season preparing tax forms, free of charge, for those com­mu­nity mem­bers with the greatest need.

Since 1994, North­eastern has hosted one of the Com­mu­nity Tax Aid of Boston cen­ters spread across the city. This year there were five sites, which operate on a first-​​come, first-​​serve basis, and those eli­gible for assis­tance include indi­vid­uals who earn less than $30,000 or mar­ried cou­ples earning less than $40,000.

This year, vol­un­teers at the North­eastern center began assisting clients on Sat­urday morn­ings in Feb­ruary. First, clients are inter­viewed and matched with vol­un­teers, who then fill out their tax forms by hand. The doc­u­ments are then reviewed and pre­sented to the clients to file. The North­eastern tax aid site pre­pared returns for 86 tax­payers, helping them claim refunds that col­lec­tively totaled more than $132,000.

This is an impor­tant way we can pro­vide vital ser­vices to low-​​income and elderly tax­payers in the sur­rounding com­mu­nity,” said pro­fessor Tim­othy Rupert, who man­ages the North­eastern site annu­ally and coor­di­nates vol­un­teer training.

Cyn­thia Jackson, asso­ciate pro­fessor of accounting, has joined Rupert at the North­eastern site for more than a decade. She said the community-​​service pro­gram makes a sig­nif­i­cant impact for low-​​income res­i­dents by ensuring they receive the tax credits they’re qual­i­fied for, and allowing them to save the money they might oth­er­wise spend on tax preparation.

Throughout my career, I’ve wanted to give back to the com­mu­nity and make a dif­fer­ence,” she said. “It’s won­derful seeing people so excited when they get their refunds.”

This year, assis­tant accounting pro­fes­sors Michaele Morrow and Brian Hogan also vol­un­teered at the Com­mu­nity Tax Aid center in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood.

Rupert said another rewarding aspect of the pro­gram is building rela­tion­ships with res­i­dents who seek their assis­tance year after year. He said one woman from Jamaica Plain has been coming for 10 years, but she recently adopted a special-​​needs child. Vol­un­teers made cer­tain she received the qual­i­fying tax credit.

It’s fun to catch up with these people, and they’re so appre­cia­tive,” Rupert said. “You get a great feeling from it.”