Duke Law Volunteers Offer Free Tax Prep Services

Free tax preparation appointments for eligible community members available through April 3

Duke employees and community members with a household income of less than $53,000 may qualify for free tax preparation assistance through the Duke Law Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.Duke Law VITA, a student organization, completed more than 340 returns and netted more than $466,000 of refunds for clients in 2014, and the group is back this season to help employees and members of the public prepare their taxes for free.“People are not paying anywhere from $100 to $400 to have their income taxes prepared,” said Kim Burrucker, Duke Law’s director of public interest and pro bono. “That’s money that stays in their pocket and helps stimulate the local economy. They get their full refunds to use to pay bills, put in savings or to go shopping.”Appointments, which are available through early April, are at the Duke School of Law and Duke Credit Union, and participants must bring their Social Security card and the cards of their dependents, copies of tax documents, and records of medical expenses and charitable donations. Chris Huong, a second-year Duke law student and a Duke Law VITA co-director, said that in addition to learning more about tax preparation, helping families with their taxes has allowed him to get more involved in the  community. “We all understand this is a mundane process and sometimes there are a lot of rules that you overlook or forget, but we’re all there to help each other,” he said. This year, about 40 students trained and passed VITA exams to volunteer.Duke employees and community members have three options when it comes to preparing their taxes through Duke Law VITA:

  • Full service preparation: Volunteers offer face-to-face meetings with clients certain Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  through early April at the Duke Credit Union, 2200 West Main St. in Durham, and some evening and weekend hours at the Duke School of Law’s Blue Lounge at 210 Science Drive. Visit the Duke Law VITA website for dates, times and instructions on how to make an appointment.
  • Drop off service: Clients can bring copies of all tax documents and social security cards to one of Duke Law VITA’s tax preparation sites during hours of operation, fill out an intake form, answer a few questions and then return at a designated time to review the completed tax returns.
  • Facilitated Self-Assistance: Eligible taxpayers with simple returns can prepare them using online, interview-based software with help from IRS-certified volunteers. To begin using the self-assist program, visit myfreetaxes.com.  The eligibility level for facilitated self-assistance is a household income of less than $60,000 per year.

To schedule an appointment, visit the Duke Law VITA website.