Students volunteers offer tax help: Liberty’s School of Law partners with VITA to provide services
Liberty University’s School of Law is continuing its long-standing tradition of providing students and community members with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services by partnering for the second year with the School of Business’ Center for Financial Literacy.
School of Law students David Thomas, Donovan Newkirk and Amber Solberg will work as the program’s site coordinators to facilitate compliance between the student volunteers and the IRS.
Each of the 40 total volunteers must go through a rigorous training course to ensure that client privacy is respected at each step in the tax assistance process.
“There’s three required trainings: … They’re required to do a volunteer standards training and they have to be certified in that, and there’s a certification for intake so that workers understand each of the forms involved,” Thomas said. “There’s also a certification to be able to handle the taxes directly. This year, we also required everyone to do a more complex training to make it easier to facilitate helping people and tax returns.”
According to Newkirk and Thomas, the volunteers take the privacy of each taxpayer seriously.
“We don’t deal with paper documents — everything is electronic, so you don’t have to worry about your identity getting stolen or anything,” Newkirk said.
Newkirk said that it’s beneficial for students to utilize this program, as they’ll not only get their tax return completed for free, but they’ll also be able to learn more about taxes during the process.
“I would say that it would be more beneficial to do taxes here because the person doing the taxes here can explain what’s happening,” Newkirk said. “Here, we can spend a lot more time with them and help them understand why they’re getting a refund or why they owe.”
Newkirk pointed out the benefits of filing a tax return even if it’s not required for a taxpayer.
“It’s also beneficial to file a return even if you don’t have to, because you could still be entitled to a refund for credits,” Newkirk said.
The VITA Program opened on Feb. 2 and will run through March 5. Program times for this year are Tuesdays and Fridays from 5-9 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Taxpayers are able to use the parking lot between the School of Business and the University Bookstore to park, and the services will take place in Room 1600 of the School of Business.
Taxpayers are generally eligible for free tax return services through VITA if they earned less than $64,000 in 2023, are disabled or have limited English-speaking capabilities.
Taxpayers must bring all of their applicable tax documents with them, such as a photo ID, Social Security cards, wage and earning statements and any other documents necessary for completing taxes. Tax returns from previous years and international student tax returns are not able to be filed through VITA.
Thomas loves the connection the event provides with the community.
“My favorite part of being in the program is interacting with the community,” Thomas said. “That extends beyond the campus, because you get to sit down with people. … You get unique opportunities to have unique conversations.”
Taxpayers interested in getting their tax return done through VITA can schedule an appointment by emailing VITA@liberty.edu, but walk-ins are also allowed.
For more information, visit @liberty_law_vita on Instagram or Facebook.
Smith is the news editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X