UGA students offer free tax prep services through VITA program
Beginning Jan. 30, University of Georgia students will again provide free tax preparation services as part of the UGA Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.
Since 2006, UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences faculty members have collaborated with the Internal Revenue Service to provide the VITA program to the Athens community.
Through a partnership with UGA Cooperative Extension, the program also provides free tax filing services virtually to communities across the state.
The VITA program offers free tax help to low and moderate income households or those who would like assistance preparing their own returns.
“The VITA program provides a valuable resource to both the community and UGA students,” said Lance Palmer, a financial planning faculty member in FACS who oversees the program along with Joan Koonce, professor and UGA Extension financial planning specialist. “For the students, it provides real-world interactions with actual clients that will serve them well as they seek careers post-graduation.”
Through the service-learning course, FACS financial planning majors, along with students in the J.M. Tull School of Accounting within the Terry College of Business and the UGA School of Social Work are certified as tax preparers by the IRS and earn academic credit for their involvement.
In-person tax returns for Athens area residents will be held at three locations: The Charles Schwab Financial Planning Center on the UGA campus; the Hancock Community Development Corporation and the East Athens Development Corporation.
VITA is offered on Saturdays at Hancock Community Development Corporation and East Athens Development Corporation.
Residents who live outside the area can schedule virtual appointments through their county Extension offices.
Appointments can be scheduled on the VITA website here: https://www.fcs.uga.edu/fhce/vita-schedule-an-appointment
Last year, students in the program filed over 1,500 federal returns, secured $2.3 million in refunds and contributed an estimated impact of $4.4 million, saving Georgia residents over $600,000 in fees.
“For most financial planning majors, this is their favorite class,” FACS student Josh Brumbach said. “On top of the community impact it has, it’s a very developmental experience. It’s definitely a lot different than looking at a case study in a book, and is a big part of the FACS experience.”