TU partners with VITA for free tax preparation

I filed my taxes for free, lifting a weight off my shoulders without draining my bank account.

Two weeks ago, my dad asked me for my W-2’s to take to his tax lady. I emailed them over and thought nothing of it; until he asked what the tax laws are in Oklahoma, that is. After some extensive Googling, we determined that the minimum amount of income for a non-resident of Oklahoma to be required to file taxes is $1,000. Thanks to all my side hustling, I was required to file taxes this year. I freaked out, naturally. Despite the ludicrous amount of math courses I’ve taken as a computer science major, I still can’t file my own taxes.

I have no tax knowledge whatsoever. I feared filing them myself because I don’t want the IRS to throw me in jail, but I didn’t want to pay some ridiculous fee for a professional to file them for me either. I was researching various tax programs online before I saw the free tax preparation advertisement in the TU weekly email for Saturday from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M.

I walked into the second floor lobby of the Holmes Center today at 1:30 P.M. and asked if tax preparation was still being offered — since the lobby was completely empty — to which they gave confirmation. I was greeted, signed my name on the short check in list, given an Intake/Interview & Quality Review Sheet to fill out and offered as many snacks as I desired from the surprisingly loaded snack table.

After I completed the form, I was introduced to Dr. Thamara Barthelus, TU’s financial wellness consultant. I sat in her office as she went through my intake information and I gave her my tax paperwork. I am a special case since my permanent residence is in Maryland, but my income was made here in the Sooner State — one of the reasons I was so hesitant on filing taxes myself. Dr. Barthelus was extremely kind as she answered my questions and talked me through my paperwork.

Next, I saw Don Nuam, a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Specialist through Goodwill Industries of Tulsa. VITA is an IRS-certified volunteer program that provides income tax return preparation for free to qualified individuals such as people making $60,000 or less as well as disabled and limited English-speaking taxpayers. Nuam resolved the difficulties and confusions that arose due to my part-year residency status.

I am appreciative of the services Dr. Barthelus and Nuam provided as they saved me from the headache of stressing over taxes for two more months as well as an exorbitant fee. However, there were very few students that took advantage of these free services today. Dr. Barthelus said that I was her second client of the day and I was definitely her last as I left at 3 P.M.

TU partnered with VITA in order to bring their services to campus for students, staff and faculty alike. I hope the university continues to partner with VITA in the future to allow easy access to free tax assistance specialists. Tax time can be overwhelming for many people, especially students preparing for midterms and faculty/staff conducting research or caring for their families. I know that I will be using VITA’s services again next year should their specialists come to campus.

Post Author: Shelby Hiens