BYU VITA Lab Provides Students and Community Members with Free Tax Assistance

PROVO, Utah – Feb 04, 2013 – The largest student-run Volunteer Income Tax Assistance lab in the country is gearing up to alleviate one of life’s two uncertainties — the burden of filing taxes.

Beginning today, the Marriott School of Management’s annual VITA lab will provide a free tax preparation service to the community. Student volunteers prepare more than 2,000 returns each year, yielding close to $3 million in tax refunds — making it the largest, most productive VITA site in the country.

Cassy Budd, who advises the VITA lab and its sponsoring organization Beta Alpha Psi, hopes many will take advantage of the program.

“It gives our students great experience and the ability to apply what they’re learning,” says Budd, an associate accounting professor. “If someone is interested in getting a free service and in helping somebody learn at the same time, using the VITA lab is a great plan.”

In addition to using the VITA lab in the Tanner Building, taxpayers interested in completing their taxes online can now take advantage of a new, free online tax service provided by VITA and myfreetaxes.com. Volunteers will be on hand to provide support for online users through email, by phone or in person at the lab. Students in the VITA lab will also be available to complete a limited number of international returns in consultation with International Student Services. These new services will allow the lab to support more taxpayers and give the students even more experience.

“The students are excited about what they’re doing and learning,” Budd says. “They are happy to share what they know because taxes can be a scary thing for people.”

Not only are the more than 150 student volunteers happy to help others but they also recognize experience gained in the lab profits each of them personally as well.

Jacob Hager, the site coordinator for VITA and a second-year MAcc student from Camas, Wash., has seen the benefits firsthand.

“The VITA lab overlaps with the curriculum students are learning in their tax classes so we get individual experience dealing with income tax returns,” he says. “Even though classes are particularly rigorous during the winter, it is worth it to take time out and volunteer because it is such great experience.”

Those interested in using the service should visit vita.byu.edu to sign-up for an appointment. The lab, located in room 332 of the Tanner Building, is open until March 31 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from noon to 6 p.m. Anyone who meets basic requirements, including an annual income of less than $51,000, may use the free service. Taxpayers who are interested in the online service should visit myfreetaxes.com/byu.

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, and entrepreneurship. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Students practice completing tax returns prior to the VITA lab's opening.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Dylan Ellsworth