Free legal tax prep

Posted on Feb 4 2013 - 7:00am by Lacey Russell

Ole Miss students and Oxford residents can benefit from free, legal tax preparation provided by students and professors from The University of Mississippi School of Law. The service will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays until April 5.

A team of students and professors from The University of Mississippi School of Law is offering help to the public this upcoming tax season by helping individuals file their income tax forms.

The free service is available to individuals who have an annual income of $51,000 or less.

This program, the Pro-Bono Initiative, began in August 2011. In its first year, more than 200 individuals received help filing their forms.

The Pro-Bono Initiative has expanded from last year, and it is expected that more people will be able to benefit from the service this year.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site coordinator Chris Barber heads up the program.

“We’re basically preparing tax returns for people with incomes under $51,000,” Barber said.

“They can just come in, fill out an intake form, and we’ll get started getting their tax returns done.”

The people working with the initiative are professionals interested in helping the community.

“We’re all certified with the IRS,” Barber said. “This program is mostly funded by donations. We’re part of the North Mississippi Rural Legal Services grant.”

The program was started as a way to provide legal assistance to those who cannot afford to get help from a private firm.

Barber also said that the aim of the program is to keep things fair, economically-speaking.

Barber encourages anyone, particularly Ole Miss students who meet the criteria for program participation, to take advantage of the service.

“Anyone who meets the income requirements is welcome,” he said.

Richard Dooley, co-site coordinator with the program, also encouraged students to participate.

“Students are more than welcome to come,” Dooley said.

“They’re a large target of ours due to financial restraints.

“We want to reach as many people as we can. We’d love to help everybody if we possibly can. It is important to know that this is a service intended for those who cannot afford tax preparation.”

Participants in this program should bring their original Social Security cards, as well as the cards of anyone else who is being claimed on the return.

Participants should also bring a photo ID and all relevant income documents, as well as a canceled check or bank account routing number if direct deposit is required.

Student volunteers and professors will be at the Lafayette County Public Library in Oxford, located at 401 Bramlett Blvd.

The service will be available from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays until April 5.

For updates about the program, visit