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Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

We are no longer accepting taxpayers for this tax season. We look forward to serving you again in 2022!

The University of Illinois’ VITA program offers FREE tax assistance to low- to moderate-income (gross income less than $57,000), elderly (over age 60), limited English speaking taxpayers, and those with disabilities. It is our privilege to help residents in need prepare their tax returns. The VITA program will be virtual this year.

To initiate services through the VITA program, please bring identification and tax documents (see below for a list of what to bring) to Salt & Light (1819 Philo Road, Urbana) during VITA drop-off hours. During this visit, a trained volunteer will conduct a brief interview, verify your identity as required by the VITA program, and scan relevant tax documents to a secure Box folder. Following your visit, students from the Gies Department of Accountancy, trained through the IRS VITA program and supported by Gies faculty, will prepare your tax return while in their virtual classroom. You will receive a telephone call from the student preparation team if they have additional questions or when they are ready to review your tax return with you. After speaking with the preparation team and asking any questions you may have, you will be directed to return to Salt & Light to pick up a printed copy of your tax return and sign documents authorizing the team to file your returns electronically.

New this year we are offering a self-service option.  With this option, you will receive a link to TaxSlayer (the same software used by VITA volunteers to prepare tax returns in our full-service model), access to a Box folder with various reference materials to help in the process of preparing your tax return, and access to several virtual help-desk sessions throughout March for help with your questions.  Please note, this is the only service option available for nonresident filers this year. Nonresident filers are generally students for the first five years being physically present in the US and teachers/trainees for the first 2 years being physically present in the US.

Questions? Call 217-300-4784 or email vita@business.illinois.edu.

FAQ

Where do I go?

Salt & Light (1819 Philo Road, Urbana)

When does the VITA program begin?

Beginning February 18 you may drop off tax materials at Salt & Light between the hours of 1-7 pm on Tuesdays and between 1-5 pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. There are no drop-offs on Sundays or Mondays. No appointment is needed, and drop offs are taken on a first-come first-served basis until we are full. Self-assistance sessions will be held during March. A schedule will be posted to this site when it is available.

How long will it take to get my return completed?

Tax returns will be prepared on a first-come, first-served basis. An estimated length of time for completion of the return can be given at the time of intake. This will be an estimate, and actual time to completion of the tax return could vary based on many factors.

Is my information secure?

We have developed a secure transmission and temporary storage system for all taxpayer-related documents. Your original documents will be returned to you after they are scanned. You will not leave any original documents with us. Once your tax return has been prepared and submitted to the taxing authorities, all virtual copies of the documents will be permanently deleted from our system.

What happens after my intake interview?

You will receive instructions on next steps during your initial visit to Salt & Light. When your tax return has been received by a preparation team, they may contact you via telephone, with additional questions. If they do not have questions during the preparation or quality review process, you will receive a telephone call when your return is complete. At this time, the preparation team will offer several options so that you can meet with the team and review your tax return. If you have the ability for Zoom conferencing at your home, you will be offered this option. This is the preferred method of communication because it will allow you to meet the preparation team, ask questions, and see the forms on the screen while you talk through things. If you are not able to participate in a Zoom conference from home, you will be offered the option to set up an appointment for a later date to participate in a Zoom conference from the Salt & Light computer lab. If you prefer not to have this appointment, you will be offered a verbal review of your tax return during that phone call. Note, Zoom can be accessed from any computer, tablet, smart phone, or other mobile device. Instructions will be provided in the materials you receive during your initial visit to Salt & Light.

If the preparation team does not reach you during this attempt, they will leave a message to return the call at your convenience. It is important to return the call to the telephone number provided during the message – NOT to the number that shows in your caller ID. The number you will be asked to call is the same number shown on this page (217) 300-4784.

After we have reviewed your return with you, either in a Zoom conference or on a telephone call, you will be instructed to return to Salt & Light to receive a printed copy of your tax return. At Salt & Light, you will be required to sign forms authorizing us to submit your return electronically to the taxing authorities. If you choose not to file your return electronically or in the event that your return is not able to be filed electronically, you receive printed tax forms to mail to the taxing authorities along with your printed copy of the return when you return to Salt & Light. Please note, your tax return will not be filed until you either sign forms, at Salt & Light, authorizing us to submit your return electronically or until you mail the forms to the taxing authorities if you are not filing electronically.

Can you prepare my Form 1040-NR?

We are no longer preparing Form 1040-NR through the full-service VITA site. We can help you determine if you need to file Form 1040-NR or Form 1040, and we can prepare Form 1040 if it is determined that this is appropriate for you. Due to time and staffing constraints, we have made the decision to offer Form 1040-NR through our self-service site only. You may access our self-service VITA site during the sessions to be offered during March and we can help you prepare your own Form 1040-NR. You will also be eligible to use TaxSlayer software to prepare your Form 1040-NR if you utilize this service. This will allow us to serve more taxpayers with fewer volunteers and reduce the need to turn taxpayers away as has been necessary in the past.

Who will be preparing my tax return?

Students from Gies College of Business’ highly ranked accounting program will work with you to prepare your tax return. Our graduate accounting students, who are especially interested in tax, will be overseeing the program. They have tax-related work/intern experience and/or have demonstrated excellent technical knowledge of tax. They have also been highly recommended by their instructors and have demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities. Guiding the program this year is Mandi Alt, an instructor of accounting who brings 20 years of tax experience to the College.

What do I need to bring?

  • Proof of identification (photo ID)
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for you, your spouse and your dependents if you do not have a Social Security number
  • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
  • Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
  • Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements