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Tax experts from UW-Madison

March 30, 2016 By Käri Knutson

As the April 18 deadline to file taxes approaches, numerous experts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison are available to help reporters working on tax-related stories.

Sarah Halpern-Meekin, assistant professor in human development and family studies in the School of Human Ecology, is a sociologist whose work has focused on the Earned Income Tax Credit and how it affects low-income families. Her recent book, “It’s Not Like I’m Poor: How Working Families Make Ends Meet in a Post-Welfare World,” sheds light on the ways the credit can offer many working families a way to build savings, pay off debt, send kids to college and achieve other opportunities. Halpern-Meekin can be reached at or (608) 263-4691.

Peggy Olive, financial capability specialist in the School of Human Ecology’s Department of Consumer Science, is a leading national expert in financial coaching. She can advise on the dilemmas associated with filing taxes: Where can you find reliable assistance to help file taxes? How can you avoid the procrastination that adds to the stress of tax time? What’s the smartest use of a tax refund? Olive can be reached at or (608) 262-6766.

Speaking of procrastination, Jihae Shin, assistant professor in management and human resources at the Wisconsin School of Business, has found that it may be a sign of creativity and the ability to generate new ideas. That may be helpful at work, but getting too creative is probably not the best way to approach doing your taxes. Shin can be reached at

Randall Wright, professor of liquid assets at the Wisconsin School of Business, has researched how tax policies influence people’s decisions to marry or share a household. “Forming a household is a partnership, and we often enter into that partnership when economic policies make it beneficial to do so,” says Wright. Wright can be reached at or (608) 262-3656.

Dan Lynch, assistant professor of accounting and information systems at the Wisconsin School of Business, has examined how companies with product market power — the ability to influence the price, quality and nature of their product more than their competitors — often engage in riskier tax avoidance strategies. Some companies have gotten very good at tax avoidance, costing the government billions in lost revenue.

“Product market power provides firms with comparative advantages through more persistent profitability and insulation from competitive threats — advantages that provide firms with the ability to engage in greater tax avoidance,” Lynch says. Lynch can be reached at or (608) 890-1976.

More experts on a variety of subjects can be found on the UW–Madison Experts Guide website or on Twitter at @UWMadisonMedia.