Temple University offers free tax preparation assistance virtually

Temple Flags hanging off a building.

Temple Owls know a little something about supporting their communities.

Since its inception, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offered at Temple University has claimed well over $3 million in federal and state tax refunds for their clients. The expertise and guidance VITA is able to give is all provided with no expense to the individuals and families seeking assistance.

COVID-19, of course, presents many challenges for any client-based community services. The VITA program is taking numerous steps to ensure that their services are available for anyone seeking it in 2021, VITA’s 14th year at Temple University Ambler.

“VITA is a program for those with low-to-moderate incomes. If a family, individual or students’ income is less than $56,844 they are eligible for this program,” said Temple University Accounting Professor Dr. Steven Balsam, who coordinates VITA at Temple. “Due to the Coronavirus, we are running our VITA program virtually this year. Clients will, however, have the opportunity to interact with our preparers and reviewers via Zoom or by telephone.

According to Balsam, VITA has set up three alternative ways for clients to utilize their services and those of their program partners.

“We are working with a national nonprofit, Code for America, which has provided us access to their secure, IRS approved, internet platform where you can fill out your intake form and upload your documents at the following link — https://www.getyourrefund.org/tuvs​​​​​​​,” Balsam said. “Alternatively, if you are uncomfortable with the Internet, we have two alternative paper-based options — both of which require clients to submit copies (not originals) of your documents.”

The first option, Balsam said, is for clients to mail VITA the documents listed here to P.O. Box 1031, Springhouse, PA 19477. VITA will contact you when they receive your documents. If after one week you do not hear from them, contact 215-326-9519 or vita@temple.edu.

 According to Balsam, the second option uses the services of VITA affiliate the Community Development Corporation (CDC) of Willow Grove, which, starting Saturday, February 6, will allow clients to drop-off their documents, which must include an intake form (IRS form 13614-C). They will accept drop-offs at the following locations on the following days and times:

  • Community Development Corporation, 210 Cedar Avenue, Willow Grove, PA

    • Tuesdays, 4 to 7 p.m.

    • Thursdays, 4 to 7 p.m.

    • Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

  • Community Development Corporation, 1840 County Line Road, Suite 212, Huntingdon Valley, PA

    • Mondays, 4 to 7 p.m.

    • Wednesdays, 4 to 7 p.m.

    • Fridays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To quality for VITA program services, clients must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have an income of less than $56,844, not operate a business and not own rental property.

“Over the years, we’ve established relationships with our clientele, many of whom come year after year,” said Balsam. “We wanted to take every step we could this year to ensure that this important community service could still be offered.”

Temple University students and students throughout the region in need of tax preparation assistance are certainly invited to take advantage of the program as well, Balsam said. About one third of their clients are students, he said.

“Our Volunteer Tax Assistants can help students and community members in claiming any special credits and deductions for which they may be eligible,” he said. “It’s certainly a valuable service for the public. Whereas it might cost $100 or more for tax preparation elsewhere, here they are able to get the help they need for free.”

For additional information about VITA 2021, contact 215-326-9519 or vita@temple.edu.