Get Free Help Filing Taxes

Tax prep services for eligible employees begins Jan. 24

Eligible Duke employees can receive free help filing their taxes.
Eligible Duke employees can receive free help filing their taxes.

When it comes to her taxes, Iris Oliver doesn't like to go it alone.

To avoid any confusion when filling out her 1040 form for the Internal Revenue Service, Oliver turns to Duke Law School's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. After becoming a homeowner, Oliver didn't want to make any mistakes and miss tax credits, so for the past decade, she's used VITA's free tax preparation assistance. 

"I needed a little more help and expertise and taking my forms to a tax preparation business can be expensive," said Oliver, an administrative assistant in the Health System's Core Laboratories. "Each year I go, I learn how our taxes are changing and see how accurate volunteers can be."

Beginning Jan. 24, Duke employees with a household income of less than $51,000 are eligible for the free tax preparation assistance. Faculty and staff can choose from several VITA locations, including the Duke Credit Union, Durham Rescue Mission, Duke Law School and at Caramore Community's Jack Simonds Center in Carrboro.

Last year, VITA helped claim more than $378,000 in refunds from federal taxes and nearly $67,000 in refunds from state taxes.

"That money, along with the savings of over $100,000 in tax preparation fees these participants don't have to pay, contribute to the stimulation of the local economy," said Kim Burrucker, director of public interest and pro bono for Duke Law and administrative advisor for VITA.

While appointments aren't necessary to take advantage of the free tax preparation, they are strongly encouraged. Walk-ins will only be accepted if time permits and no walk-ins will be accepted during the last hour of operation at each site.

Here's how to get help at Duke through VITA:

  • Full service preparation: Employees with a household income of $51,000 or less can meet VITA volunteers at the Duke Credit Union, 2200 West Main St., from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. most Fridays through April 4. Appointments will also be offered at the Law School from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on some weekdays. A full listing of dates, times and instructions is listed online.   
  • Drop-off service: Employees eligible for full service preparation but unable to make an appointment can bring copies of tax documents to a VITA tax preparation site and return at a designated time to review the completed returns.
  • Those completing a 1040NR U.S. nonresident alien tax return can receive help at the International House by emailing with the phrase "Tax Preparation" in the subject line.

For more information, visit Duke's VITA website or call (919) 613-8526.