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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Free tax assistance for qualifying South Carolinians

The University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law is celebrating its 32nd year serving as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site throughout tax season this spring.  

VITA, an IRS grant initiative, provides free tax return preparation for low to moderate-income taxpayers. Through the program, law students volunteer to assist qualifying taxpayers on a first-come, first-served basis each Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon starting Feb. 3 through March 30. The site will NOT operate March 9, when the law school will be on spring break.  

In addition to the community benefit, law students volunteering with VITA have an opportunity to enhance their own legal skills by conducting interviews, refining communication skills, and working on a real-world application of tax law on behalf of clients. 

Associate professor of law Clint Wallace believes the goal is not to become tax law experts overnight, but to develop familiarity with the process while providing a much-needed service.  

"The VITA program is a unique way for students to do something really similar to the practice of law without needing to be directly supervised by an attorney before they have a law license,” Wallace says. “It's really fun to see them develop their bedside manner and figure out how they can effectively communicate about complicated issues in a way that's comforting, helpful, and positive, and also reflects their understanding of this complicated material.” 

The program was established at the law school and run by the former Pro Bono Director, Pam Robinson. This is the second year that Wallace has coordinated the program with additional support provided by two student managers: 3L Mark Buyck, who was also a student manager last year, and 2L Brooklynn Withers. 

"After last year, getting on board and seeing how it worked, it was something that I really wanted to keep doing,” Buyck says. “Without this service, a lot of people would have to go and pay for a service or try to do it by themselves and maybe mess something up. It's great that we’re able to provide this for the community.” 

The Rice School of Law VITA site is not able to assist with business, self-employment, foreign student returns, or complicated forms. Those seeking tax preparation assistance must: 

  • Present a valid photo ID,  
  • Provide a Social Security card for the filer and any dependents,  
  • Bring all tax-related documents,  
  • Have an income of no more than approximately $60,000.  

The law school entrance for the public is at 1525 Senate Street, facing Senate Street. More information about other VITA sites across the Midlands. 

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