Free Tax Preparation Available for Some U.Va. Employees

January 30, 2009 — As tax time approaches, a University of Virginia student volunteer group, with support from University Human Resources, is offering a new service to U.Va. employees: Free tax-preparation assistance.

U.Va. staff, including wage and part-time workers, and Medical Center employees who earn $41,646 or less annually can drop in and have their tax returns prepared for free, as long as they don't need complicated itemizing and are not non-resident aliens (NRAs).

The student group — Creating Assets, Savings and Hope, or CASH — is organized through the University's student volunteer center, Madison House, and will be set up in the Human Resources building at Michie North (918 Emmet Street) from Feb. 2 until April 15. They will be available on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. If there is enough demand, they might extend the service to Saturdays, as well.

The Internal Revenue Service trained the students as part of the federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA, whose free service is worth $150, helps individuals get their tax refunds in about 10 days.

The student volunteers also are offering their services for a local United Way group, the Thomas Jefferson Area Earned Income Tax Credit Commission, which asked them to work with residents at several locations. CASH also has sites at the Friendship Court Community Center and the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.

Some U.Va. workers might not realize that they may qualify for either the federal earned-income tax credit, the child tax credit, or both. The volunteers will work with employees to make sure they get the tax credits for which they qualify. If filing a "married filing jointly" return, both spouses must be present.

"We would like to help U.Va. employees and the community to the fullest extent possible. A lot of people qualify for the earned-income tax credit," said Deborah Perl, a fourth-year McIntire School of Commerce student who organized CASH three years ago.

More than 35 trained volunteers will staff tables at U.Va. and the other sites, up to 10 at each time and place, said Dennis Barrett, a third-year law student.

Below is a list of items employees must bring with them:

•    Photo identification
•    Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and all dependents
•    Wages and earning statements: W-2, 1098 and 1099 forms from all employers; unemployment compensation, if applicable
•    Day care expenses paid in 2008 and the day care provider's name, address and federal ID number
•    A check or deposit slip if you want to get your refund through direct deposit.

About Madison House

Madison House is the student volunteer center at the University of Virginia. The organization coordinates volunteers in almost 20 different programs, develops leaders, builds community partnerships and promotes lifelong volunteer service. For information, call 434-924-4350.

— By Anne Bromley