Free Tax Preparation Services Available Now

Randy Skalberg and VITA students
February 17, 2014

The UMD Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides tax return preparation services for low and moderate-income residents of the Duluth-Superior area.

The UMD Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides tax return preparation services for low and moderate-income residents of the Duluth-Superior area. Last year the VITA program prepared returns for over 900 clients. This program utilizes a unique combination of students taking VITA as a credit-bearing course to provide tax return preparation services offered at four community locations, the Duluth Public Library, UMD's Labovitz School of Business and Economics, the Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC), and the Fond Du Lac Tribal Center. (See below for total results of last year's program.)

Services are offered now through April 12. For a schedule of the locations and times that the VITA Program is available, go to the VITA Program under the Accounting Department tab on the LSBE website at https://lsbe.d.umn.edu/about/academic-departments/accounting/vita.

Additionally, the VITA program offers tax preparation for international students through a partnership with the International Student Services Office. Last year, UMD VITA assisted in the preparation of nearly 50 returns (Forms 1040NR and state returns) for international students on the UMD campus.

"This service is important because international students are becoming an increasing part of our campus life," said Randy Skalberg, Associate Professor of Accounting and VITA Program Director. UMD has over 300 international students from more than 40 countries. All international students in the U.S. in 2013 are required to file a form with the IRS, including those who did not earn U.S. income and scholarships.

"International students have unique tax filing issues," said Skalberg. "Most international students are nonresident aliens, who must file a tax return to retain their visa status, and many of them have never filed before."

"The VITA program provides high quality tax preparation for free to those who need it, and international students provide us with a chance to help even more people," Skalberg added.

International Students can reserve a tax session time by emailing Anna at naug0026@d.umn.edu. Walk-in basis preparation is offered depending on how many seats are available at that time. For information including the locations and times for international students' sessions click here.

The UMD VITA Program has been providing free tax preparation for clients at the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation near Cloquet, Minnesota, since 2004 and at the FDLTCC since 2010. Additionally, the program developed into a full VITA course taught on the FDLTCC campus, with nine UMD students working at the two Cloquet sites side-by-side with FDLTCC students last tax season.

At the tribal center site, these students prepared returns for a nearly 100% Native American client base. At FDLTCC, they prepared returns for a very diverse client base including students, staff, and faculty. A total of 158 returns were filed at these two sites, for total refunds amounting to $264,421 for the 2012 tax year.

"These students gained insight into the unique tax issues that apply to Native Americans, increasing their cross-cultural expertise," said Skalberg.

The overall UMD/FDLTCC VITA program results from last year’s tax year were:

  • 945 returns prepared
  • Federal refunds of $882,247
  • State refunds of $221,628
  • Total Refunds of $1,103,875

The software used to prepare international student returns doesn't provide refund information, so those refund results are not included in the above data.