USD students are helping the Vermillion community file their taxes.
Junior law student Mallory Schulte, the site coordinator for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in Vermillion, is teaming up with other students to make sure people get their refunds filed correctly.
The VITA program offers free tax help to taxpayers who make under $54,000.
“We offer free tax preparation based on IRS guidelines,” Schulte said. “They determine what is within our scope and what is beyond it.”
The program operates out of the Vermillion Public Library.
“We chose this site because it has a lot of flexibility,” she said. “It’s easy to find and people don’t have to navigate areas they are unfamiliar with.”
Schulte said all the volunteers at the library are students. Volunteers are from the law and business schools.
Schulte became interested in volunteering at the law school, she said.
“This gives you an opportunity to develop client counseling skills and educate taxpayers on their tax situation,” she said.
About 20 students volunteer for the program, Schulte said.
“In order to be a volunteer, you have to complete the training,” she said. “You have to take a series of exams on ethics, site coordination and tax law.”
A fair number of students come to the library to get their taxes done, Schulte said. Even with the Internet, some people still prefer to do their taxes face-to-face.
“Our tax code is still really complicated,” Schulte said. “Online software doesn’t provide adequate explanation of the law.”
Law professor Allen Madison is the academic advisor for the program and said VITA helps students gain experience.
“VITA helps students develop skills,” he said. “When they graduate, they’ll go into fields where they advise people, and this is a great first time for them to help people.”
Madison said students want to help people get the most out of their taxes.
“The students are there to educate people and help them understand their taxes and why they’re getting what they’re getting,” he said.