VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." - Dr. Albert Einstein

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement, has joined the nation in the charge against poverty. In conjunction with the Lincoln Volunteer Income Tax (VITA) Coalition, UNL will be preparing low-income, working families' and students' taxes for free!

The Benefits:

  1. Community members have their taxes prepared for free
  2. Students have their taxes prepared for free
  3. Volunteers will learn a new skill (tax law, tax prep) and by making a significant difference in the lives of others. 

Register Today!

UNL Students Only: Sign-up to volunteer
UNL Faculty, Staff and Community Members: Sign-up to Volunteer

Registrations to volunteer will open August 1st.

For more information, select the tab that best fits you and your needs.



Students

Things to Know.

Let us prepare your statements for you! If you made less than $3,950, you don't have to file, but you might as well file and get a few dollars back from the government. Certain types of scholarship and fellowship income must be declared, and certain educational expenses may qualify you for a tax credit or deduction. See our Guide to Scholarship Income, Educational Credits, and Tuition and Fees Deductions for more information.

Who is claiming you?

If you are a full time student under the age of 24 and did not provide more than half of your total support for the year, your parent or legal guardian can claim you as a dependent, regardless of student income. Often, it is more advantageous for your parents to claim you so that they can get extra money returned to them via educational credits. If you aren't sure which would be best, come in and see us, and we'll help you figure it out.

What should I bring?
  • Social Security Card and photo identification
  • Social Security numbers and birth dates for all dependents
  • Forms W-2 and all other income forms and tax documents for 2016
  • Bank routing and account number for deposit/debit of any tax balance
  • Tax identification numbers for any and all daycare providers
  • Spouse, if filing jointly (both must be present to sign the return)
  • If a post secondary student, you must bring your 1098T and student account information showing payment of tuition and qualified fees

Become a Volunteer!

Volunteering for the UNL Tax Credit Campaign is easy, fun, and rewarding, helping provide low-income, working families and students with free and quality tax preparation services. All VITA volunteers must complete the standards of conduct training. We are looking for volunteers  to be:

Tax Preparers

Tax Preparers have a few more requirements than other volunteers. Tax assistants must earn tax law certification and attend a Tax Slayer training session. Four Tax Law Help sessions are provided in order to help make sure a volunteer can pass the necessary certification tests. If you do not have previous experience with taxes, don't worry!

There is no cost of training to become a tax assistant. All of your materials, software, training, and test(s) are provided by the Internal Revenue System (IRS), Lincoln VITA Coalition, and by the Center for Civic Engagement's Service-Learning. In order to serve in the capacity of a tax assistant, you should present your certificate denoting completing of volunteer certification to Service-Learning (222 Nebraska Union) by January 22, 2017. If you anticipate being unable to complete your certification by this time but would like to serve as a tax assistant, you should still attend the tax law workshops and software training and should contact Linda Moody, Ph. D. at (402) 472-6412 about delaying the completion of your certification. There are six types of certification for tax preparers.

Certifications

There are three standard certifications and two specialty certifications. All volunteers helping people to prepare taxes must have at least the basic certification.

Standard certifications:

  • Code of Conduct*
  • Basic
  • Advanced**

*Required by all participants.
**Required by all tax preparers.

Specialty certifications:

  • International
  • Military
  • Health Savings (HSA)

We encourage everyone to achieve the highest level of certification that they can. With higher levels of certification you will be able to assist more people.

Sign-up to Volunteer

Interpreters

Spanish interpreters are needed the most, but if you can interpret another language, let us know.

Sign-up to Volunteer

Greeters

Greeters help keep the tax site organized and on track by greeting clients, checking appointments, answering basic questions, and keeping track of order.

Sign-up to Volunteer

Community

How does the UNL Tax Credit Campaign work for me?

The UNL Tax Credit Campaign helps the community by offering free tax preparation for low-income, working families in our community. Families are especially encouraged to come in to try to maximize money returned to them by the Earned Income Credit (EIC).

What is EIC?

The Earned Income Credit (EIC) has become our nation's largest and most important anti-poverty program, offering an average of $1700 per year to each of 20 million low-income working families. As part of the federal tax code, these credits provide a unique financial opportunity for the working poor and they make a substantial impact on the economies of their communities. In short, you may qualify for special EIC credits on your taxes putting more money back into your pocket.

What is the UNL Tax Credit Campaign?

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement's Service-Learning, has joined the nation in the charge against poverty. In conjunction with the Lincoln VITA Coalition, UNL will be preparing low-income, working families' and students' taxes for free!

What is new for the 2016 tax year?

Information coming soon!

What should I bring?
  • Social Security Card and photo identification
  • Social Security cards and birth dates for all dependents
  • Forms W-2 and all other income forms and tax documents for 2016
  • Bank routing and account number for direct deposit/debit of any tax balance
  • Tax identification numbers for any and all daycare providers
  • Spouse, if filing jointly (both must sign the return)

Tax Preparation Schedule

January
22 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 1pm-3:30pm NEU 
23 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm
NEU
24 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU 
25 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
28 UNL Tax Credit Campaign, MEGA Saturday 10am-3pm NEU
29 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 1pm-3:30pm NEU 
30 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU 
31 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
February
1 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
 4 UNL Tax Credit Campaign, MEGA Saturday 10am-3pm NEU 
5 Free Tax Prep at the Gaughan 1-3:30pm
6 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
7 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
8 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
11 UNL Tax Credit Campaign, MEGA Saturday 10am-3pm NEU 
12 Free Tax Prep at the Gaughan 1-3:30pm
13 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
14 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
15 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
18 UNL Tax Credit Campaign, MEGA Saturday 10am-3pm NEU 
19 Free Tax Prep at the Gaughan 1-3:30pm
20 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
21 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
22 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
25 UNL Tax Credit Campaign, MEGA Saturday 10am-3pm NEU  
26 Free Tax Prep at the Gaughan 1-3:30pm
27 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
28 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
March
 1 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
4 UNL Tax Credit Campaign, MEGA Saturday 10am-3pm NEU 
5 Free Tax Prep at the Gaughan 1-3:30pm
6 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
7 International Student Scholar Free Tax Prep 1-5pm JGMC Unity Room
7 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU 
8 UNL Tax Credit Campaign Free Tax Prep 5-7pm 
NEU
12 Free Tax Prep at the Gaughan 1-3:30pm
14 International Student Scholar Free Tax Prep 1-5pm JGMC Unity Room
21 International Student Scholar Free Tax Prep 1-5pm JGMC Unity Room
28 International Student Scholar Free Tax Prep 1-5pm JGMC Unity Room
April
2 Free Tax Prep at the Gaughan 1-3:30pm
4 International Student Scholar Free Tax Prep 1-4pm JGMC Unity Room
9 Free Tax Prep at the Gaughan 1-3:30pm
11 International Student Scholar Free Tax Prep 1-6pm JGMC Unity Room

January 22 - March 8

Nebraska East Union, 3rd Floor Student Involvement

Monday-Wednesday, 5-7pm 
Saturdays 10am-3pm
Sundays in January 10am-3pm

February 5 - April 9 (Sundays Only)

Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, 2nd Floor located at
1505 S Street
Bilingual - Spanish site

Sundays, 1-3:30 pm
(Closed March 19 and 26)

International Student/Scholar

All international students and scholars need to file a tax return because of their Visa status.  You could be considered a Resident or Non-Resident depending on your Visa type and the number of years you have been in the United States.

Visa Type                    Resident (Legal or Tax Purposes, i.e. U.S.                  Non-Resident (i.e. U.S. Non- 
                                   Resident alien, Citizen, or National)                          Resident alien)
                                 
F1                               In the US for more than 5 years                               In the US for 5 years or less
 
J1                                In the US for more than 2 years                               In the US for 2 years or less

H1b                             When arrive in the US                                             When arrive in the US

Income to Report          Worldwide Income                                                  U.S. Source Income

Any non-US resident is eligible to receive free tax preparation at the UNL Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center on Tuesday afternoons.  IRS-certified volunteers will prepare federal tax returns at the UNL International VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Site. Please note, there are services available if you are considered a resident for tax purposes (refer to the student or community tabs).  Also note that the international VITA site only prepares federal returns.

For the International VITA it is necessary to sign up for an appointment.

  • Passport
  • Immigration documents including:
    • 1-94
    • I-20
    • DS-2019 for those in J1 status
    • All tax documents (such as W-2 forms and 1042-S)
    • Your federal and state returns from last year, if you filed (this is helpful but not required)
    • A blank check (This is a free service-your check is simply used as proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit of refund, which will be processed far more quickly than a refund by mail.  Again, this is helpful, but not required)

We cannot provide tax assistance outside the hours listed.  We have tried to provide enough open hours to allow for people to receive assistance over their lunch hour or after work.

Following preparation of the federal return at the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, students and scholars will be directed to the Nebraska Department of Revenue just a few blocks away to prepare their state return.  This can, but does not have to, be completed on the same day as the federal return.

All international students who are considered to be non-resident for tax purposes and were physically present in the US in 2016 need to complete for 8843 (a simple form) whether or not they earned income.  Non-resident taxpayers are not allowed to file US taxes electronically.  Non-residents must complete and mail paper forms.

Questions regarding the InternationalStudent Scholar VITA site can be addressed to Linda Moody at lmoody2@unl.edu or 402-472-6150 (this phone number will connect you to the Center for Civic Engagement-this is the correct contact department for the International VITA coordinator).

Foreign Student Scholar Tax Law Training

The following resources will aid Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) tax preparers on their quest to successfully complete Foreign Student Scholar tax certification. Bonnie Johns, IRS Senior Tax Consultant, prepared the following materials to aid individuals in learning the nuances in preparing international student and scholar tax returns.