Babson Center for Global Commerce

A Wm. Polk Carey Pre-Business Program

Sewanee students offer free IRS-certified income tax preparation and filing


Low- to moderate-income residents in the Franklin, Grundy and Marion Counties have an option for free assistance in preparing and filing their 2013 Federal Income Tax returns, thanks to a volunteer program by students at the University of the South.

Approximately 20 students are now Internal Revenue Service-certified and are offering filing assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). The service is free to any taxpayer with a 2013 household income of less than $52,000.

The local VITA program is sponsored by the University’s Canale Endowment Leadership and Service Internship program and mentored by the Babson Center for Global Commerce.

The VITA training certification equips the student volunteers to provide free basic income tax return preparation with free electronic filing. The volunteers help ensure taxpayers who qualify claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, These credits may provide cash payments to eligible taxpayer, thus strengthening our local economy. The volunteers are trained to assist taxpayers with many other tax-preparation issues as well.

The VITA service is available through April 15 at two sites: The Sewanee Senior Citizens Center at 5 Ball Park Road and, in Monteagle at The Church of the Holy Comforter, 16 First Street. The Sewanee site will be open every Tuesday morning, while the Monteagle site will be open on Sunday afternoons.

Appointments are required and may be scheduled by calling 1-205-504-5306 or by email at

Taxpayers seeking VITA assistance should bring to their appointments all available W-2 forms, Social security cards or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) for each person on the return, their 2012 tax returns (if available), dividend and interest statements (Form 1099), bank account number and routing number to allow direct deposit any refunds, and valid photo identification.

Dorothy (Dot) Estes, a junior at the University and economics major from Birmingham, AL, is the organizer and leader of the local VITA program. The goal of the project for this tax season is to assist at least 35 taxpayers in filing.

“I knew VITA was going to be an amazing opportunity that I could not overlook,” says Estes. “VITA offers personal growth through leadership and accountability, financial-based learning, and -- most important -- a chance for volunteers to use their abilities to help our community.”

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