Tax help: Volunteers offer free tax prep to elderly, those in need

Published 3:00 am Friday, January 29, 2016

Free income tax preparation services are available to people and families in the Pike County area who are making less than $52,000 and to all senior adults.

The free income tax preparation services are being offered locally by Troy University School of Accountancy students and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in partnership with the Alabama Asset Building Coalition, Troy Bank & Trust and the Internal Revenue Service.

Heath Wesley, Pike County Extension coordinator, said tax preparation services can cost $200 to $300 or more.

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“This cost can be a burden on low income families,” Wesley said. Troy University accounting students, who are IRS and trained certified volunteers, will provide tax-prep and e-file services for federal and state returns at the Pike County Extension Office at 306 South Three Notch Street in Troy.

The hours of service will be available from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 1:30 until 3 p.m. on Thursdays. No filing will be offered on Fridays. The free service will be available through April 1.

Wesley said those wishing to use the free income tax preparation service at the Pike County Extension Office are encouraged to call the office at 566-0985 to confirm the availability of the services before coming to the office.

“Last year, we saved about $36,000 in tax preparation fees in the Pike County area alone,” said Dena Mitchell, site coordinator and taxation instructor at Troy University. “Taxes are prepared by accounting students who are studying taxation as part of their course curriculum.”

Mitchell said each volunteer has been certified by the IRS after completing IRS training.

“The volunteers complete ethics training in addition to their tax training and each return goes through a review process before it is filed. The IRS process is more rigorous than many of the paid preparer sites.”

Some people who do their own taxes, even on a simple return, miss out on credits available to them just because they were not aware of them.

The tax preparation service is aimed at assisting families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a federal anti-poverty program for low-income, working families.

Certain things are required to receive the free income tax preparation service. Those who go to have their taxes prepared should bring:

• Proof of identification (photo ID).

• Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents.

• An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for you, your spouse and your dependents if you do not have a Social Security number.

• Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN.

• Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return.

•Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers.

• Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099).

•All Forms 1095, Health Insurance statements.

• Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received.

• A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available.

• Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check.

• To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

• Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number.

• Forms 1095-A, B or C, Affordable Health Care Statements.

• Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable.