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JMU VITA program looks to help taxpayers prepare to file

The program is free, and open to anyone in the area who makes under $65,000 a year.
JMU VITA program
JMU VITA program
Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 5:59 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The 2021 tax filing season is set to start Friday, Feb, 12. If you are in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County and need assistance preparing your taxes, the VITA program at James Madison University can help out.

For the past five years, JMU graduate students in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) have been helping local residents file their taxes.

“I think this is like a stepping stone into our profession, so it’ll help us get the real life experience before we actually graduate,” said Bonnie Zhang, a JMU graduate student in VITA.

Accounting Professor Nancy Nichols is the coordinator of the VITA program. She says it was started by the IRS, and has been running at JMU for the past five years. In it’s first year, students helped with around 150 tax returns, and last year they completed 400.

“It’s grown tremendously,” Nichols said. “This year, we wont be able to help quite as many people because we are scheduling appointments in order to keep social distancing. But we should still be able to help about 300 taxpayers this year.”

The program is free, and open to anyone in the area who makes under $65,000 a year.

For one student involved, this program hits close to home.

“I’m actually from a low income area, where people I know for a fact don’t necessarily know or understand how to do things like their taxes, or can necessarily afford to pay someone to do their taxes for them,” said JMU graduate student, Rafiq Abdus-Sabur. “So this is a really rewarding opportunity for someone like myself to be able to see both sides.”

In order to receive assistance, you can call (540)236-8685 to make an appointment. From there, you just drop off your paperwork, and pick it up at your scheduled time the following week.

For more information, visit https://www.jmu.edu/cob/accounting/vita.shtml

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