For the second year in a row and the 12th time overall, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) at Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law has been recognized with the National Achievement Award from the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Student Division. The award was announced on August 10 at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
Each year during tax season, students at Barry School of Law assist low-income families and individuals with filing their federal income taxes. The program is offered through Internal Revenue Service’s VITA program, which is part of a coalition assembled by Heart of Florida United Way to provide services to the community. VITA is designed to help low-income earners, specifically those who make less than $54,000 per year.
“We’re honored that the hard work of our Barry Law students in the VITA program is once again recognized by the ABA,” said Leticia M. Diaz, Dean of the Barry Law School. “Giving back to the community is at the core of our mission, and the VITA program is one way our students embody it.”
This year, the program had a total of 93 Barry Law students volunteers and prepared more than 230 returns, resulting in $229,167 in refunds. The average Earned Income Credit was $1,161 and the average refund was $1,380.
Barry Law Professor Frank Schiavo, who serves as the faculty advisor to the VITA program, was on-site each week to assist students with some of the more complex issues and answer questions for those having their taxes prepared. The oversight of the student volunteers is handled by the VITA E-Board, which is comprised of students who are elected each year to serve for the following tax season.
Barry Law’s VITA program was launched in 2006 and was recognized that year with the ABA Law Student Division’s VITA Rookie Site Award.
To view the full list of award winners, head to the ABA Law Student Division website: https://abaforlawstudents.com/2019/07/29/2019-aba-law-student-division-award-winners/