JMU News

In challenging tax year, JMU continues preparation services

by Eric Gorton


James Madison University College of Business students and faculty will once again offer free tax return preparation services to members of the community with annual household incomes up to $65,000. 

Due to the COVID pandemic, the service will function with a safe drop-off and pick-up model, rather than in-person, beginning Friday, Feb. 5. Clients will schedule a time from 4-7 p.m. to drop off and review their tax documents with a JMU VITA volunteer. 

This will be the fifth year for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and tax law changes could present some challenges. 

“With so many changes to the tax law for 2020, filing taxes this year may seem overwhelming,” said Nancy Nichols, an accounting professor and director of the graduate accounting program. “We understand the tax law changes and can ask the right questions to ensure everything is accurate.” 

Some of the changes that will impact individuals include: 

  • Higher standard deductions
  • A charitable contribution deduction for individuals that do not itemize up to $300 for cash contributions
  • The earned income tax credit (EITC) may reduce taxes of low- and middle-income workers earning up to $56,844 in 2020. Taxpayers with higher earnings in 2019 may use their 2019 tax return to calculate their 2020 EITC
  • Taxpayers who didn't receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return
  • Taxpayers who received a refund in 2020 may have been paid interest. These interest payments are taxable on their 2020 tax return
  • Coronavirus related early distributions from retirement plans may not be subject to the early withdrawal penalty 

The IRS will start accepting 2020 tax returns February 12. Last year, VITA assisted 400 taxpayers and generated more than $615,000 in federal refunds. 

To schedule a drop-off time, call JMU VITA at 540-236-8685. The phone will be answered from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Messages can be left outside of those hours and calls will be returned the next business day. 

Drop-off and pick-up will be at Hartman Hall, JMU’s new business building, 421 Bluestone Drive, Harrisonburg. 

More information about the program is available at:


Media contact: Eric Gorton,, 540-908-1760. 

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Published: Monday, February 1, 2021

Last Updated: Monday, February 1, 2021

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