Tax filing assistance offered

Published 3:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2015

For the fourth year, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program will provide low-income residents in Pike County help in filing their taxes.

“We have been very fortunate that over the past three years, we have increased number of participants tremendously for the program,” said Grant Lyons, with the Pike County Extension Office.

The office will coordinate the service, which provides IRS-certified and trained volunteers to assist residents in filing taxes. The program begins Feb. 2 and is sponsored by The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Troy University and The Alabama Asset Coalition Board.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The biggest impact about this program is that we get to provide a free service for qualified public,” Lyons said. “Another benefit to us is the partnership with Troy University. The accounting students who have been trained (to filing taxes) can have hands-on experience while helping community members.

“The third benefit is (the program) keeps the money here in Pike County. The money to pay tax specialists can be spent on something else like grocery, and the money people get from filing tax return will also be spend in local area.”

Individuals making lower than $52,000 in yearly income are qualified for the free tax return preparation assistance and free electronic filing. However, the program will also help people who cannot prepare their own taxes.

VITA volunteers can assist with credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. Individuals who use the electronic filing program will also receive their tax return faster.

In addition to free tax services, the Pike County VITA site will also offer assistance in referrals to financial education, training and programs.

In the past two years, the program helped filed 208 federal returns and 133 state returns, saving $40,000 in taxpayer preparation fees and helping secure more than $288,000 in tax refunds.

No appointment is needed to get the tax services. The program will work on a first come, first served basis.

The tax services will be available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On days when the tax specialists are not in the office, a notice will be posted on the Pike County Extension office’s door, said Sheron Mitchell, office assistant.