Help from the tax man
Beginning Feb. 2, low-income and senior residents of Douglas County may qualify for free income tax preparation from volunteers trained through a program offered by the Internal Revenue Service.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance grant program offers free tax preparation for underserved and low-income populations including the elderly, disabled, limited English-speaking, rural and Native American taxpayers.
The program was created in 1975, but participants had to go to Reno for assistance.
The service will be offered 5-8 p.m., Monday and Thursday evenings at the Douglas campus of Western Nevada College from Feb. 2 through April 16.
Participants must schedule an appointment by calling 211 or 782-9825.
Kori Renwick, an IRS tax consultant in Salt Lake City, trained volunteers Jan. 13 at the college.
“We’re bringing the program to the Douglas campus for the first-time ever,” Renwick said. “It’s really about collaboration among a group of community partners. That includes GE Energy, Western Nevada College, Douglas County Social Services and the Partnership of Community Resources. The coalition motto ‘Earn it, keep it, save it.'”
Renwick said a goal is to make sure qualified taxpayers claim their earned income tax credits, often overlooked by inexperienced preparers.
“A lot of people don’t realize if they qualified they could receive up to $5,600 a year even if you don’t owe any taxes,” said Karen Goode, director of social services.
The earned income tax credit is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families, first approved in 1975.
To qualify, taxpayers must meet certain requirements and file a return, even if they don’t owe taxes or aren’t required to file.
“The focus in Douglas County is due to staffing and manpower. It’s more than just Minden, the territory is Nevada,” Renwick said.
Volunteers from GE Energy include Julie Abbott, Carson City; Tom Pfoh, and Stephen Byrne, of Minden; Melissa Davila and Jocara Crane, Gardnerville; Lelana Moralez, Dayton and volunteer Thomas Rigor of Gardnerville.
“The IRS trains and helps certify all volunteers,” Renwick said.
Davila, a six-year employee of GE Energy, said the volunteer program gave her an opportunity to give back to the community.
“I’ve been on public assistance before,” said the 41-year-old mother of one. “I can’t donate a lot of money, but I can donate my time.”
She said the tax assistance program appealed to her and she enjoyed the training.
“I heard about it through United Way at work. Every year, I give them the same $10. I thought this is something I can do. I can give back time,” Davila said.
She moved to Carson Valley as a 14-year-old in 1984.
“I couldn’t wait to get out of this town. When I was 18, I went to Stockton and visited family and thought, ‘This (Carson Valley) is a so much nicer place to grow up and raise a family.”
She and her husband and son live in the Gardnerville Ranchos.
The IRS-sponsored program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is available to residents of Douglas County. VITA services will be scheduled through Douglas County Social Services and are available 5-8 p.m., Mondays and Thursdays beginning Feb. 2 at the Douglas campus of Western Nevada College, 1680 Bently Parkway South, off of Buckeye road in Minden. Call 211 or 782-9825 to make an appointment. To qualify for the free tax preparation assistance and EITC you must meet certain requirements.