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Free Tax Prep Service For Students, Residents

Resident and student sitting at the UNL Tax Event
Katie Curtiss (left), a student volunteer, helps Cindy Ortiz (right), a Lincoln resident, file her taxes inside the food court at the Nebraska Union. They sit at a table during the UNL Tax Credit Campaign event. Photo by John Weed

Tax season is approaching quickly. UNL has a useful service at the Nebraska Union to help students and residents prepare their taxes. 

UNL has partnered with the Lincoln Volunteer Income Tax (VITA) Coalition to help the community during this tax season with an event called the UNL Tax Credit Campaign. 

Any UNL student or low-income working family living in Lincoln can get their taxes prepared free by student volunteers. All you have to do is make an appointment online, bring necessary documents, and fill out a questionnaire at the event. 

Edward Williams, who recently got his taxes filed from this free event, said he enjoys this process and is better than going to larger tax companies. “I went to H&R Block twice before and the more money I got back, the more they charged me to do my taxes. Low-income people like me can’t afford these big companies and I hope they keep this free event running for a long time.”

Students and residents who are part of the Earned Income Credit (EIC) are also encouraged to come to this free event. This will help get the maximum amount of money returned to them.

“Our program aids the Lincoln community by assisting to return millions of dollars each year to Lincoln residents,” said site coordinator and student volunteer Mackenzie Mapes. “We also provide assistance responding to IRS letters, filing prior year or amended returns, or connecting residents to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate program.” 

Some residents, like Cindy Ortiz, are grateful for this free service which helps her and the lower-income community around her. “It’s easy to sign up and come to a free event held by knowledgable students, especially on a weekend,” she said. “It’s tough on one income but easy to get money back that I didn’t have earlier. ” 

Not only do residents get advantages from the free tax prep, but student volunteers are impacted as well. Volunteers gain real-world experience, make connections and learn how to file different families’ taxes. 

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Student volunteers help Lincoln residents file their taxes inside the food court at the Nebraska Union. They sit in groups during the UNL Tax Credit Campaign event. Photo by John Weed

“It feels pretty good to help people take advantage of credits or deductions that they might not even know exist,” Mapes said. “Many families in Lincoln depend on their tax refund to support their family. I feel great knowing that I’m able to help people indirectly support their families.” 

For more information about the UNL Tax Credit Campaign event including times, dates, and scheduling appointments, visit https://engage.unl.edu/vita#schedule