UConn Law Students Help Last-Minute Tax Filers
By Allison Thompson, Office of University Communications
STORRS, Conn. --For the second consecutive year, students from the
University of Connecticut School of Law are helping taxpayers
struggling with income
tax forms and a rapidly approaching filing deadline.
Approximately 20 students are running a Volunteer Income Tax
Assistance, or VITA, site in Hartford's federal building at 135 High
St. It's the only volunteer
tax assistance program housed in the building, says Michael O'Reilly,
taxpayer education manager for the IRS.
VITA is an IRS-sponsored volunteer program designed to provide free
tax preparation assistance to low- or moderate-income individuals who
are unable to
prepare their own tax returns or pay for professional assistance. The
program is part of the IRS' mission to provide taxpayers with top
quality service by helping
them understand and meet their tax responsibilities.
For the next two Saturdays, student volunteers will staff the site
from 8:30 a.m. until noon. On Thursday, they will be at the site from
1 to 5 p.m. The site is one
of only two volunteer locations in Hartford with the ability to file
returns electronically, O'Reilly says.
When taxpayers go to the federal building in search of help with
their tax forms, they can go to the IRS's walk-in office or UConn's
VITA site, O'Reilly says.
"It's very convenient for the Hartford taxpaying population," says
Diana Leyden, assistant clinical professor of law and volunteer faculty
coordinator of the site.
Since the site opened in February, the volunteers have helped about
200 taxpayers, says Bill Kambas, a second-year law student and
co-coordinator of the site.
"People are very happy for our assistance," Kambas says. "We take
the time to explain their tax liability and try to get them all of the
credits, deductions and
exemptions they deserve."
Taxpayers might appreciate the fact that the students aren't
associated with the federal government, Leyden notes.
"Some people, for various reasons, seem to be more comfortable
listening to advice from a knowledgeable student who doesn't work for
the same agency that
might be reviewing their return," she says.
Leyden hopes the site will familiarize the general public with the
law school's tax clinic. Opened in July 1999, the clinic provides
low-income taxpayers with free
legal representation in federal and state tax matters.
April 2001 Releases