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Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program: By the Numbers

Professor Bird-Pollan and Student Volunteer at Tax Clinic

This spring, the University of Kentucky College of Law continued one of its signature pro bono efforts – the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Now, tax season is over and the 2014 numbers are in!

This year, a total of 46 volunteers, including 25 law students and two law alumni, prepared and filed 587 tax returns for mostly low income individuals with simple returns. Clients saved an estimated $114,465 in preparation fees and received $579,000 in federal refunds and $110,000 in state refunds.

The UK Law VITA site is one of nineteen in Central Kentucky operating with the help of the United Way of the Bluegrass. Associate Dean Doug Michael leads the VITA clinic with the help of Professor Jennifer Bird-Pollan.

“It’s phenomenally fulfilling,” exclaims Associate Dean Michael. “Our volunteers are just heroes to these people. They cry, they hug you – it’s amazing.”

Associate Dean Michael’s favorite part of the program is being able to provide clinical experience for the law students. He gives students all of the credit for running the program, praising their hard work, dedication, and endless energy.

All student volunteers must complete a series of in-class or online trainings, and afterwards, pass multiple Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tests to receive certification. It’s a great opportunity for students to apply the skills they have learned in the classroom.

“It benefits us and it benefits the community,” says clinic volunteer Laura Leigh Zimmerman (class of 2014). “The people we serve are always very, very appreciative. It’s very rewarding.”

Thank you to the following College of Law student (and alumni) volunteers: Allan Amburn, Patrick Barsotti, Andy Bates, Austin Byars (class of 2013) Chris Carson, Rachael Chamberlain, Matt Doane, David Harper, Michael Hill, Sarah Houseman, Blair James, Nabeel Jawahir, Nathan Klein, Dagong Luo, Kat Milby, Jacob Moak, Robin Muncy, Sean O’Donnell, Cate Poole (class of 2011), Katharine Sagan, Tracy Scherzer, Abid Shalash, Drake Staples, Jake Thompson, Mary Ellen Wimberly, Annie Wurtzebach, and Laura Leigh Zimmerman.