GW Law Students Offer Aid to Qualified Tax Filers

Final “assistance fair” takes place Wednesday afternoon for residents with household incomes up to $60,000.

Photo: Rob Stewart for GW Today
March 25, 2015

Low-income residents in the D.C. area have had expert resources this tax season: George Washington University law students.

A dozen students from GW Law are participants in the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service, which trains qualified volunteers to provide assistance to low-income families and individuals preparing tax returns. Through a partnership with H&R Block, the program provides sites where U.S. citizens who earned less than $60,000 in 2014 can get help filling out their income tax forms for free.

“Assistance fairs” have been offered on GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus every week since Feb. 11, barring one snow cancellation.

“This is a good way for people who know how to fill out these forms to help out families who might have trouble doing it,” said Michael London, a third-year student at GW who organized the sessions.

In some years, VITA volunteers have filled out entire tax forms for those they help. This year, however, applicants will complete the forms themselves—but with the help of free tax assistance software and with informed and certified helpers on standby.

“The IRS likes this [method] because it gets people used to doing it themselves,” Mr. London said. “Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing to go get help, but it shows people that it’s not as challenging as it can seem.”

Tax-literate law students also can help applicants get more credits and deductions in their filings. In D.C., for instance, volunteers focus on getting families their earned income tax credit, Mr. London said.

The final workshop takes place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Marvin Center, Room 404. Qualifying applicants should bring with them the following:

  • Proof of identification
  • Social security numbers for you, your spouse and your dependents
  • Copies of your W2s, 1099s and other statements showing income from 2014
  • Any other tax statements showing income or expenses (such as home mortgage expenses, student loans, etc.)
  • A copy of last year's return
  • If you used child care, the amount paid and the tax ID of the recipient
  • Affordable Health Care statements (if sent to you--forms 1095)
  • A check, if you intend to request direct deposit for your refund