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Extension programs offer free tax prep

By Jenna Oden

Two programs offered by the Pike County Extension Service Free are providing free income tax filing assistance to qualifying residents.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) taps trained volunteers to aid in filing basic and intermediate tax returns.

“We are a volunteer-based program that have students, retired employees and more come from all over that help the citizens here get their taxes done for free,” said Pike County Extension administrative assistant Courtney Daniels.

All VITA volunteers are trained by the IRS. Some are also senior accounting students from Troy University. Anyone who earns $55,000 or less can quality for the assistance.

“It is all about helping people, and it is an excellent program that really helps people get the most out of their refunds,” said Will Golden, former Pike County extension coordinator who now works in Macon County.

“The money that people save will stay in Pike County. You’ve got people saving almost $300 on tax preparation and that helps people add a little more to their pockets.”

The VITA program also helps set up savings accounts for tax refunds. “The ultimate goal is to help financial better people,” Golden said. “We try to get people to save their money and refund.

The goal of the program is to help members of Pike County better their lives and hopefully save enough to add worth in the long run.

“These people are waiting for a refund that will help fix their home problems or get a car,” Daniels said.

“They can use that extra money that they might not have gotten somewhere else to better their home or their families.”

In addition, the Extension office offers Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) for individuals who need assistance in filing taxes. “It is targeted towards people who are 60 years old and older,” Golden said.

The Pike County Extension Office, 306 S. Three Notch St. in Troy, offers the VITA services on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call the Pike County Extension office 334-566-0985.