Over the past 10 years, Leeds has partnered with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help qualified Boulder County residents file over 4,000 returns. This service is provided at no cost to the local community and utilizes student and faculty volunteers from the Leeds School of Business and the CU Law School, who work one-on-one with low-income residents to prepare tax filings each season.
The 2018 tax season stayed fairly consistent with the previous years’ output, in terms of refunds issued. Returns filed this year resulted in $477K, with total income earned credits at $135K for the tax year, $80K in refunds for education tax credits, and a record-setting $173K for child tax credits. The total refunds over the 10-year program resulted in over $4 million in refunds, $1.3 million in earned income tax credit and $700K each in education tax credits and child tax credits.
To be eligible to prepare tax returns for this program, student volunteers first must pass an IRS certification exam. To ensure accuracy, all returns are screened and vetted by community volunteers who have previous work experience in tax law—ensuring the accuracy of returns for those using the program’s services.
“Each year, I see our students do an incredible job with this program while they receive valuable experience applying their skills,” said Susan Morley, senior accounting instructor and teaching professor and faculty advisor of the Leeds’ VITA program. “It is a very humbling and rewarding experience to provide this valuable service to the community. We are excited to continue this service in the future, and we know our students and community volunteers are excited to continue to serve our Boulder County community.”
The VITA program is open to residents who make less than $54,000 a year, have a disability, or who are limited English speakers. People who meet the requirements can request help in preparing their tax returns through the program and receive free basic tax preparation with electronic filing. VITA-dedicated sites are located throughout Colorado in local community and neighborhood centers, libraries, shopping malls and other convenient locations.
This program was funded in part by a CU Boulder Outreach Award, which supports faculty, research, teaching and creative work that connects with communities statewide.
Services are offered on a walk-in basis during the active tax season (January through the beginning of April). Leeds is looking forward to continuing this collaboration with VITA next year. Details will be available in January 2020.