Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) - Overview for law students only

The SMU Dedman School of Law’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helps individuals in the Dallas community by preparing tax returns using IRS software and transmitting the returns electronically to the IRS. SMU law students help to prepare basic income tax returns free of charge at designated IRS/VITA sites for individuals of low to moderate income, individuals with disabilities, non-English speaking taxpayers, and the elderly.

Confirmation Agreement for VITA – due by January 2021 (for SMU law students only)

VITA Site List - final dates and time for 2021, to be determined by the Dallas Tax Centers, Foundation Communities.  All CoVid regulations will be followed, including shields, face masks, hand sanitizer, etc.  VITA sites are tentatively planned as:  appointment only for the general public, tax preparer sites only, and/or online. 

Mandatory VITA TestsJanuary 29, 2021 due by 5 p.m., or at the latest by the middle of February 2021.  Three tests are required with an 80% or higher score (you may retake each test only once).  Once all 3 tests are passed, please print and sign the Volunteer Standards of Conduct Agreement (Form 13615) with test results, INCLUDING your contact information, and submit to Lynn Moubry <Lmoubry@smu.edu> in the Public Service Office (Carr Collins Jr. Hall, suite 320, 3rd floor); please do not submit certificates.  The Sponsoring partner name/site name is:  SMU Dedman School of Law.

Schedule Sites - Once the 3 required tests have been passed with an 80% or higher, and the Volunteer Standards of Conduct Agreement (Form 13615) has been submitted, Lynn Moubry will e-mail the Dallas Tax Centers Scheduler's contact information.

Logistics of the VITA program are as follows:

  1. All SMU law student participants will need to pass the Mandatory VITA Tests . These are required IRS/VITA tests; you will receive up to 8 Public Service hours for completing the 3 required tests. The 3 required IRS/VITA tests must be completed online BEFORE scheduling site hours.
  2. Each SMU law student plans his/her own attendance schedule choosing a recommended VITA site provided by the Dallas Tax Centers. To request a specific date/time (3 hours time slots preferred), please contact the Dallas Tax Centers Scheduler. If corrections need to be made to your schedule, immediately contact the Dallas Tax Centers Scheduler, and/or e-mail Lynn Moubry <Lmoubry@smu.edu> during regular weekday business hours. 
  3. Law students will keep a weekly record with the number of hours dedicated with VITA on a Student Log Form.
  4. Upon completion of 30 hours (22 hours plus 8 hours for tests), a Supervisory Report form will need to be signed by the VITA site coordinator/manager to certify completion and submitted to the Public Service Office.
  5. Please submit both the Student Log and Supervisory Report to Lynn Moubry <Lmoubry@smu.edu> in Carr Collins Jr. Hall – suite 320, 3rd floor. Fulfillment of the Public Service graduation requirement will be forwarded to the law registrar with a confirmation e-mail sent to the law student at the beginning of each month.

Specifically regarding hours of credit:

  1. A student need not earn a full 30 hours in the VITA program to receive Public Service credit. Most students complete 30 hours through the program, but a student is allowed (but not recommended) to split his/her public service requirement hours with another program to complete 30 hours.
  2. Credit for the tests will be on a "matching" basis.
    For example, if a SMU law student completes the tests for 8 hours and works 8 hours in the field (8 field + 8 training/tests), then 16 hours of credit will be awarded.
    If a SMU law student completes the tests for 8 hours and works 3 hours in the field, only 6 hours (3 field + 3 training/tests) will be awarded.
    Finally, if a SMU Law student completes the tests for 8 hours and works 22 hours in the field, then 30 hours
    (22 field + 8 training/tests) will be awarded, which will fulfill the SMU Public Service graduation requirement. 

Specifically regarding site locations:

  1. A student may attend any of the Dallas Tax Centers sites (3 hour time slots are recommended). Remember that site positions have a limited number of computers available each day and will be closed when filled.
  2. If a student has requested a certain site location/time and can not attend, he/she MUST contact the  Dallas Tax Centers Scheduler or the VITA site coordinator BEFORE such non-attendance, and/or contact Lynn Moubry <Lmoubry@smu.edu>.  This will give the VITA site time to find a replacement.

Please email Lynn Moubry with questions regarding the VITA program. Please complete a Public Service Commitment form Confirmation Agreement form, and return it to Lynn Moubry in Carr Collins Jr. Hall, suite 320 if you plan to participate.

Thanks for your interest, and we'll see you in January!

Lynn Moubry, Public Service Program Assistant
Lmoubry@smu.edu
214-768-2761