Liberty Law Students Help Community File Tax Returns

Along with the spring rain, tax season showers every American citizen toward the end of March and April.

Students at the Liberty University School of Law reached out to the community and helped qualifying taxpayers file their taxes through the IRS sponsored program Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. 

VITA is a program to help individuals who generally make under $57,000 per year, to prepare their taxes completely free of charge, according to the IRS’ website.

The VITA service is an annual CSER-approved event in which many Liberty Law students participate every year. Typically, the program is held from mid-February through early March at Liberty University. This year the service took place over nine days across the two months with the final day being March 6, according to Liberty University’s website.

The students met with members of the community at the Liberty Mountain Conference Center to assist them with the filing process. All a taxpayer needed to do was provide the volunteer students with their tax form and social security card so they could correctly fill out the paperwork and submit the tax forms.

“The feedback that we get from the community is very appreciative of the students’ help,” Kenneth Rousselo, third-year law student and lead site coordinator, said. “Taxes are a very stressful thing with this year being more complicated than many others. We have had many people come in who are at a loss on where to begin.”

2020 brought many changes in tax laws including new tax brackets, different standard deduction, increased employee contribution limit for 401(k) plans and more, according to CNBC.

Liberty University has been participating in the VITA Program since 2009, according to Liberty University’s website, and has been able to help countless members of the community with the complicated process of filing their taxes. Student volunteers are certified by the IRS and participate in a countrywide volunteer program.

Over 70,000 people volunteered for the VITA Program nationwide and helped file 2.5 million tax returns in 2020, according to CNBC. This year, 12 Liberty students did their part as VITA volunteers and served over 50 people in the Lynchburg community and surrounding area.

Liberty Law students are required to take a course on income tax to graduate. This course provides students with the knowledge of how to prepare tax returns for themselves as well as others. The VITA program puts that knowledge into action. 

“The opportunity to become more familiar with not only taxes but working alongside clients is invaluable to the practice of law,” Rousselo said. “Not only that, but it is truly an honor to serve the Lord by serving people.”

Jacob Chace is a News Reporter.

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