Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

The University of Illinois’ VITA program offers FREE tax assistance to low- to moderate-income (gross income less than $60,000), 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 program will be available from February 1 until April 6, but please note that it will be closed during the University of Illinois spring break from March 9 to 18.

Get Free Tax Preparation Help

To initiate services through the VITA program, please bring identification and tax documents (click here to download 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. For a better idea about the intake interview questions, see Form 13614-C.

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.

Before joining the program as volunteers, Gies Business Accountancy students have to take at least one tax class and obtain a certification through the IRS VITA program. Watch this video from ciLiving to learn more about the tax preparation process via the VITA program and how you can prepare for your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

The VITA program prepares current year returns, prior year returns, and amended returns.

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

Where do I go?

Salt & Light (1819 Philo Road, Urbana)

Bus routes to Salt & Light:

  • During daytime hours: The 2 Red serves the Salt & Light stop at Philo & Colorado.
  • During evening hours: The 50 Green serves the Salt & Light stop at Philo & Colorado.*For accurate route maps and time details, visit mtd.org.
When does the VITA program begin?

Beginning February 1, 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.

What do I need to bring?
  • Every taxpayer and their spouse must come to Salt & Light in Urbana to drop off and pick up their documents. Both must bring a photo ID.
  • Social security cards (or ITIN letters) for the taxpayer, spouse, and all dependents
  • All tax documents such as Form W-2 and Form 1099
  • Form 1098-T for all college students
  • Bank routing and account number (if you would like direct deposit of your refund)
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, you may receive a phone call from a student if more information is needed. If they do not have questions during the preparation or quality review process, you will receive a telephone call when your return is complete.

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.

When your tax return is finished, you will return to Salt and Light to review your tax return and sign authorizations for us to transmit your tax return to the IRS.

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 the taxpayer mails the return to the taxing authorities if you are not filing electronically.

Can you prepare my Form 1040-NR?

We are not able to prepare Form 1040-NR. If you are unsure if you are required to file Form 1040 or Form 1040-NR, we can help you make the determination.

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.