BYU program offers free tax filing assistance to the community

A Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program volunteer helps a community member file an income tax return. Beginning January 31, trained volunteers will begin helping eligible community members file their taxes for the upcoming tax season. (Photo courtesy of Income Tax Help for Volunteers/Jared Stark)

BYU Volunteer Tax Assistance The program provides free tax filing assistance to eligible community members during tax season. Starting January 31, program volunteers will begin assisting all eligible locals.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance partners with the IRS to offer free tax filing and e-filing advice. The program is exclusively for people with disabilities, limited English skills, seniors, and those earning $57,000 or less per year.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program staff members strongly encourage BYU students to use the program because of their specific understanding of student tax filing needs.

“We strive to help students earn the full amount of US Opportunity Credit, which I think sets our VITA lab apart from others,” said site coordinator May Harrington.

Located in the Tanner Building on the BYU campus, the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program has a variety of IRS-qualified student volunteers. “We have a lot of certified volunteers with a lot of enthusiasm, so we’re excited to get started,” Harrington said.

According to the group’s website, the lab is open Monday through Thursday by appointment only. Assistance is also available on Saturdays, but is limited to scheduled appointments with no possibility of walk-in services.

The lab waiting room includes activities for children to meet the needs of parents applying for tax assistance. Another convenience offered by volunteers is the ability to view a live online waiting list, accessible through the Volunteer Tax Assistance website.

Mother-of-four Kimberly Fountain has used the program for the past seven years and plans to return to the lab this tax season.

“It’s a great program. Student volunteers are very thorough and I’ve always had a good experience,” Fountain said.

Because the program is solely run by volunteers, their popular tax filing services are provided free of charge, Harrington said. Ms Fountain said she was initially intrigued by pro bono income tax help because of its cost, but was later pleasantly impressed with the quality of the service.

“VITA is an incredible resource. It’s free, it’s simple. Overall it’s a great experience and a great tool to take advantage of,” said BYU Senior Rachel Lunt.

Appointments with volunteers usually last about an hour, not including waiting time. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Coordinators encourage those seeking assistance to come prepared with the appropriate personal information for a fast filing experience.

The program helps file an average of 1,000 to 1,500 returns per tax season, said the site’s assistant coordinator, Jared Stark. Due to high demand, the group’s volunteers invite those interested to act now.

“We encourage people to come earlier in tax season before our office goes crazy,” Harrington said. “Filing taxes is definitely not something you want to put off.”

For more information about the program, Volunteer Income Tax Help volunteers invite students and members of the community to visit their site and take advantage of free tax filing help. .

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