UCO’s VITA offers free help with filing taxes in the Business building

Gracie Hendrix

Contributing Writer


The University of Central Oklahoma’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is providing free income tax assistance and e-filing to UCO students, faculty and staff from now until April 6 in room 107 in the College of Business building on campus.

This service is available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. In order to be helped people will need to bring their drivers license or a valid ID, their social security number and any past forms. International students will need to bring all of that as well as a passport or VISA. 

As tax season approaches people are working to get their tax documents in order, ensure everything is right and send it off to the right people before April 15. However, a lot of people get things wrong and they often don’t trust the IRS to help them get it right. 

Professor Riley Shaull has been with UCO since 2017. He began teaching at UCO in 2019 but has worked with finance for 25 years. He believes the biggest mistake people make when filing their taxes is listening to someone who is not trained in that field. People listen to the advice but don’t question if that person is credible or reliable.

“I think you should actually go with somebody that has been trained in the field and is current on the tax laws, which change every year,” Shaull said.

A Comprehensive Taxpayer Attitude Survey (CTAS) Executive Report published in 2022 by the IRS, surveyed over 2,000 people about their opinions associated with the IRS. One of the statistics found was that 88% of people agree that the IRS should focus on improving customer service and assistance to taxpayers. 

“I agree, they should work on their customer service. Also though, this is an IRS system, VITA is their program. All the people that I deal with with the Internal Revenue Service are willing to go the extra mile, very knowledgeable and will help in any way they can,” he said.

Shaull said that there are a few flaws in the tax filing process but if the laws were simplified everyone could end up paying the same amount which would be a whole different problem.

“Nobody likes it, but of course the taxes keep the schools open, roads, defense, all those things that we really need and like to enjoy would go away if we didn’t pay taxes,” he said. 

While this program helps those who need it, it also helps students on campus learning how to go into this field. The volunteers are certified students taking a class and their homework is filing people’s taxes. 

“It is a college credit class. We try to make it as realistic as possible as working for a firm where they have to deal with clients. They have to manage their time. They also have to write a paper at the end of tax season. There are no tests in it, other than the test to get certified,” he said. 

Anne Michelle-Jean Baptiste is a current student and volunteer with the VITA program. She signed up for the class because she wanted to do something with taxes and because she is an international student who knows how important this service can be to other international students.

 “I think it’s a really good thing to have on campus and it makes it more accessible for [international students] but also other people in our community, professors, students, etc.,” Baptiste said. 

Last year the VITA program helped over 500 people file their taxes. For the month of February 2024 alone they helped over 190 people file.

Share This