Undergraduate and graduate students studying accounting and finance majors at the University of North Georgia (UNG) are offering free tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program sponsored by the IRS, according to a release by UNG.
The free service is available by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m., starting Feb. 1 and going through March 1. To set up a time, taxpayers can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-867-3082. Individuals should bring the documents listed by the IRS to Newton Oakes room 015 on UNG’s Dahlonega campus at the time of their appointment. Returns are filed electronically with direct deposit if appropriate. To see the list of documents needed for an appointment, go to https://www.irs.gov/individuals/checklist-for-free-tax-return-preparation.
As part of the VITA program, the UNG students will prepare tax forms with schedules A, B, C-EZ or D and Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit, Education Credits and Dependent Care tax credits, all under the guidance of Lisa Nash, a certified public accountant and lecturer of accounting in the Mike Cottrell College of Business at UNG. According to Nash, who has been leading the program for six years, the program serves 100 to 115 taxpayers each year.
According to the release, VITA offers free tax services to people who generally make $57,000 or less. The service helps low- to moderate-income individuals, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speakers file their taxes each year.
“The IRS-sponsored program offers UNG students a wonderful hands-on experience serving our community,” Department Head of Accounting and Law Ellen Best said in the release. “The students gain many new skills while taking part in the VITA program, which include growing their technical skills through preparing tax returns, learning how to interact with clients and being able to receive feedback on reviewed work.”
According to the release, Bachelor of Business Administration students in accounting and finance are preparing returns and Master of Accountancy students are helping with preparation and review. Senior students Millie Burger, Abigail Duncan and JoAn Jean-Baptiste completed an individual tax class so they are knowledgeable about tax law.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Burger said in the release. “In addition to helping people, it gives me experience because I haven’t had an internship yet.”
There are a few notable changes with taxes this year, the release added. Taxpayers must report the amount of federal stimulus money they received to ensure that they obtained the full amount. The stimulus funds are not taxable.
In addition to this change, child tax credit and dependent care credit were fully refundable and increased in 2021, the release said. Families were able to receive some of this funding as advance payments during the year, and the tax return will help them to receive the rest of the credits.