Trinfo.Café VITA Tax Clinic Files 158 Returns in Spring 2019 Pilot

Congratulations to Professor Serena Laws, Trinfo.Café, and all the students that were enrolled in “CLIC 290: Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford” this semester! Last night, our colleagues at the Village for Families & Children sent us the most inspiring message about the course:

Take a look, the number of tax returns done at Trinfo Café this year – AWESOME number, especially for their first year!

-The Village for Families & Children


Photo by Abby Woodhouse, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, The Village for Families & Children.

For the Community Learning component of the course, students were trained as IRS-certified tax preparers at Trinfo.Café on Broad Street. The average returns they were giving to families was $1400 and $3800 for families with children– and that’s compared to an average yearly income of $18,000 for the clients served. Instructor and Site Coordinator Serena Laws said, “I’m very proud of all the work we’ve done this year and I’m excited to find ways to expand next year.”

And #ICYMI take a look at our video recap of the course below.

This semester, Visiting Lecturer in Political Science Serena Laws has been teaching “Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford” and piloting a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at Trinfo.Café where students have been trained as IRS-certified tax preparers. Despite only being open a few hours twice a week, Professor Serena Laws says the VITA site at Trinfo.Café has already filed over 100 returns.

The average return we’ve been giving is $1,400, and for families with kids the average return has been about $3,800. Our clients have an average yearly income of about $18,000, so this is a huge boon to their income for the year. – Serena Laws, Visiting Lecturer in Political Science, and VITA Site Coordinator

For the academic component of the course, students are learning about the history of tax credits, how it compares to other methods of delivering social benefits, and the tax code in general.

“I think learning about the credits and then actually getting to see in practice how they contribute to the refund that people are getting and hearing their reactions to it is a lot more valuable than just learning about the history of the credit itself. It’s giving us an understanding of how this really affects people.” – Amanda Hausmann ’21

The pilot tax clinic at Trinfo.Café is one of several Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) locations in Hartford coordinated by the United Way and The Village for Families & Children. The program generally serves people who make less than $55,000 a year, people with disabilities, and offers tax preparation services to Spanish and other language speakers.

Alex Tomcho ’19 assists a client with tax returns at the VITA Tax Clinic at Trinfo.Café. Photo by Nick Caito.