BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Students from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Kelley School of Business will be providing free tax assistance to low-income, elderly, disabled and limited English-speaking residents over the next month.
The students will be participating in the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteers in Tax Assistance (VITA) program beginning Wednesday (Feb. 10) at the law school, 211 S. Indiana Ave., in room 122. The walk-in clinic will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays through March 12. All program volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS.
Those with an annual income of $49,000 or less are eligible for the free tax preparation help, provided they have not received income from the sale of stocks, mutual funds or homes, and do not own businesses. Student assistants can help qualifying taxpayers navigate the often complex task of filing state and federal tax returns, said John Allread, an IU Maurer School of Law student and one of the School's VITA program coordinators.
"The VITA program helps low- to moderate-income taxpayers avoid the fees charged by commercial tax preparers while assuring that they receive any tax benefits for which they qualify, particularly the Earned Income Tax Credit," said Allread. "In addition, VITA offers free e-filing, which promptly sends any refund to the taxpayer without need of a high-interest tax anticipation loan."
Those taxpayers wishing to participate in the VITA program are encouraged to bring relevant tax documents to the walk-in clinic: a W-2, photo identification, Social Security card, and documents from other income sources. Copies of last year's tax returns aren't required, but are helpful to tax preparers.
"We oftentimes find clients hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars worth of unexpected refunds," said Jessica Zissou, also a VITA program coordinator.
Ajay Mehrotra, professor of law and the Louis F. Niezer Faculty Fellow, said the VITA program benefits both residents and students.
"The VITA program is an excellent opportunity for our students to give back to the Bloomington community by using their knowledge to assist low-income taxpayers," Mehrotra said. "It is also a good way for students to learn more about the federal income tax system and how it touches so many aspects of everyday life."
Students from the Kelley School of Business, coordinated by the Beta Alpha Psi honorary fraternity, will also be assisting at the Law School's VITA site.
(IU News: 2/9/2010)