Student Volunteers Offer Tax-Preparation Help to Some U.Va. Employees

Some University of Virginia employees are eligible for free assistance in filing their federal and state income tax returns, thanks to a team of more than 100 U.Va. student volunteers.

Eligible employees must be U.S. citizens with an adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less, which must include a spouse's income if filing jointly.

Starting Jan. 30, law students in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, and a Madison House undergraduate group, Creating Assets, Savings and Hope – or CASH – will be available by appointment to walk eligible employees through the tax-preparation process, and help ensure that they receive any refunds to which they are entitled. Tax forms will be reviewed twice and filed electronically the same day.

Serving the greater Charlottesville community since 2007, the volunteers are trained by the Internal Revenue Service through its national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

"Essentially, if you've done anything that will get you a tax credit or deduction, we'll get it recorded on your return," said Evan Didier, a third-year law student who is president of the Law School's VITA program. "We helped nearly 500 taxpayers last year obtain over $380,000 in tax refunds and over $120,000 in tax credits. We also estimate that we saved taxpayers nearly $100,000 in tax-preparation fees alone."

Luke Secosky, a fourth-year student in the McIntire School of Commerce and Didier's counterpart in the CASH program, said, "Many firms that advertise free tax preparation on simple returns charge extra if you want to claim the earned income credit, the largest and most beneficial tax credit available to many taxpayers."

Appointments are available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and on Saturday mornings at the U.Va. Human Resources building on Emmet Street. Appointments can be made online at the VITA website or by calling 434-924-0123. The appointment will take about an hour, and employees must bring:

• Proof of identification
• Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents
• Birthdates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
• Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
• Interest and dividend statements (Form 1099)
• A copy of last year's federal and state returns, if available
• Bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit of refunds or direct debit of tax payments
• Total amount paid for day care provider and the day care provider's tax identifying number (the provider's Social Security number or the provider's business employer identification number)

— By Anne Bromley