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Law students, Legal Services for Students assisting with free tax preparation

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Editor's note: The April 12 tax preparation session at Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority Resident Services has been canceled due to renovations at the site, 1600 Haskell Ave., Apt. 187.

LAWRENCE – As tax season gets underway, two University of Kansas groups are offering free tax preparation services for those who qualify.

School of Law students with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will prepare returns for taxpayers who are residents of Kansas, Missouri or Illinois; who earn less than $54,000 per household per year; and who do not itemize their deductions. The program runs from Feb. 21 through April 16.

Legal Services for Students (LSS) is also offering free tax assistance through a VITA grant from the Internal Revenue Service. Any U.S. resident taxpayer may prepare and electronically file their federal and state tax returns for free via the LSS website if their income was $64,000 or less in 2017. International students and international staff at KU may also prepare their taxes using free software with no income limit.

Last year, KU law students prepared about 240 federal and state tax returns. LSS directly prepared 140 returns in 2017 and assisted more than 1,100 individuals in preparing their own returns through the tax workshops at the KU computer lab. View the workshop schedule (PDF). For more information about tax assistance provided by Legal Services for Students, contact the office at 785-864-5665 or legals@ku.edu.

“The tax preparation workshops are a great way for students and staff to learn about properly preparing and filing their own tax returns,” said Jo Hardesty, director of Legal Services for Students. “LSS tax attorneys and KU law student interns are available at the workshops to assist and answer tax questions that may arise.”

The law school’s VITA program operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and the number of preparers varies with the site. Those seeking assistance are encouraged to arrive near the start of each session. Taxpayers should bring proof of identification and all relevant documentation, including proof of income, expenditures and health insurance-related documents. For more information, call 785-864-9227.

Law students Jordan Haas and Karlee Canaday are coordinating this year’s VITA program, with about 25 other law students helping to prepare returns. Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school and professor of tax-related law, serves as the VITA faculty coordinator.

“VITA provides great value to the community and KU students,” Haas said. “It gives KU law students practical experience with tax law and customer service while also helping individuals who seek an alternative to paying a professional or risking error in preparing their own returns.”

Spring 2018 VITA Schedule

Monday 6-8:45 p.m., Green Hall, Wheat Law Library, 3rd Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.
Wednesday 3-5:45 p.m., Green Hall, Wheat Law Library, 3rd Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.
Thursday 3-5 p.m., Ballard Center, 708 Elm
CANCELED week of April 8: 5:15-6:30 p.m., Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority Resident Services, 1600 Haskell Ave., Apt. 187
Saturday 10-11:45 a.m., Green Hall, Wheat Law Library, 3rd Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.

Sessions run Wednesday, Feb. 21, through Monday, April 16. No sessions will be held Feb. 26 (Monday) or March 17-25 (University of Kansas spring break).

Taxes are due Tuesday, April 17, instead of Sunday, April 15, this year due to the federal observance of Emancipation Day.

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