Volunteers needed to make tax time less taxingThe Internal Revenue Service and Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency are looking for local volunteers to make tax time less taxing for friends and neighbors.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
The Internal Revenue Service and Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency are looking for local volunteers to make tax time less taxing for friends and neighbors.
The agencies need volunteers to help as greeters, site coordinators and trained tax return preparers as part of the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
Last year, the program provided free tax return preparation for nearly 500 people in this area.
“We want to help residents keep as much of their money as possible, and free help preparing your tax return is one way to do that,” said Millie Rounsville, NWCSA chief executive officer. “Volunteering is simple and so important. All you need is a willingness to help, and we can find a place for you.”
People need not be a certified public accountant to help,” said Christopher Miller, spokesman for the IRS in Wisconsin. However, if they want to prepare taxes training is provided, he said. The service uses software to guide people through the return.
Last year, nearly 100,000 volunteers across the country completed some $3.3 million tax returns through the VITA and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs.
According to the IRS, in the five-county area of Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield, Price and Iron — the area served by NWCSA — last year about 7,867 taxpayers received around $14.9 million from the Earned Income Tax Credit, with the average credit around $1,873.
In this area, the program is especially important to residents who live Wisconsin, and work in Minnesota; they sometimes find it challenging to prepare two state tax returns. Ashland area residents who work in nearby Michigan often face a similar challenge.
The VITA program can help prepare both state and federal tax returns.
New this year is a service geared to especially remote and rural areas. Residents in those areas can pick up a tax packet at various partner agencies and then get their tax return prepared over the phone by a VITA volunteer.
The VITA program not only provides free tax preparation, but also allows residents to file returns electronically. E-filing can mean faster refunds and can help residents learn about important credits and deductions for which they may be eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can be a significant tax credit for low- to moderate-income taxpayers who work but may not make a lot of money.
“Volunteers are trained and certified to prepare simple tax returns for people whose incomes are generally $50,000 or less,” Miller said. “People of all ages and backgrounds can volunteer.”
VITA and TCE sites are generally open nights and weekends and the hours are flexible. Volunteers usually help a minimum of a few hours a week between February and April.
To volunteer, contact NWCSA at 715-392-5127 in Superior and 715-292-6400, ext. 1 in Ashland. You can also send an email to TaxAssistance@northwest-csa.org or Jo Ryker at email@example.com.
Information about the IRS volunteer tax preparation program is available at www.IRS.gov, keywords Tax Volunteer.
NWCSA serve residents in Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield, Price and Iron counties with main offices at 1118 Tower Ave. in Superior and 623 2nd Ave. E. in Ashland.