Mar 2, 2012

Volunteer tax preparers

Central Lakes College accounting students are volunteering their service for income tax preparation in the region as part of their tax updates course. Fifteen are working with clients at sites on the Brainerd campus of CLC as well as in Pequot Lakes, Pine River, and Walker. They are supervised by personnel in the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program facilitated by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $50,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation to qualified individuals in local communities. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Students are required to complete classroom training that includes numerous simulations and obtain certification before tackling real tax preparation, said instructor Salle’ Crutaire. PHOTO: Central Lakes College accounting student Joni Warzecha of Hillman (left) worked on the income tax return of CLC dental assisting student Kari Johnson of Fargo in the VITA site on the Brainerd campus. The free service is provided for individuals within income guidelines.
Those volunteering at CLC participate during service hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 1-4 p.m. Thursday in Room E201 of the Business and Industry Center.
            Other students are assisting in their home communities, where the service is offered – Pequot Lakes Library, Thursday, March 8 and 15, noon- 4 p.m.; Pine River Family Center, Monday 4-8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon; Walker City Fire Hall, Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
            Students include Levi Gray, Baxter; Alyssa Herget, Jodi Herron, and Sherri Huchel, Brainerd; Leah Egerman, East Gull Lake; Dennis Benjamin, Fort Ripley; Melissa Fetters, Garrison; Joni Warzecha, Hillman; Sara Super, Little Falls; Arielle Shaw, Onamia; Ann Mindrum, Palisade; Jessi Babb, Shannon Beveridge, and Nicole Lloyd, Pequot Lakes; and Tammy Hanson, Walker.
            “The tax preparation course at CLC has helped me immensely to learn about the seemingly frightening world of taxes,” said Lloyd, president of the CLC Accounting Club. “Being able to prepare taxes hands-on is assisting me to gain the confidence to prepare tax returns, apply what I have learned throughout the course, while also being able to help out the community.”
            Lloyd, who through February had completed four tax returns for clients, said appointments of one hour each allow time to not feel rushed between returns. She noted that a site coordinator is available to help answer questions as well as making clients comfortable and welcomed.
            Lloyd said she plans to spend more weekends at the Pine River-Backus Family Center to gain experience in the tax field.