Free tax help available to those who qualify

Not only is there free tax help available to those who qualify, it’s also accurate.

“People don’t seem to realize that something that is free is also the best out there,” Britta Anderson, a representative of Goodwill Northern Illinois, said at a press conference Jan. 25.

The purpose of the press conference was to discuss Goodwill’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. The VITA program offers free tax preparation to anyone who meets income guidelines: a maximum annual income of $25,000 for a single person or less than $57,000 for a family. In DeKalb County, the 2013 VITA program is supported by the DeKalb CASH Coalition, the Northern Illinois University Accountancy Department, the Kishwaukee United Way, AARP, NCTC and the Internal Revenue Service.

Goodwill of Northern Illinois President Sam Schmitz said the program assisted 1,499 individuals and families last year, saving them more than $300,000 in tax preparation fees. About 1,200 of those helped were seniors, AARP coordinator Dave Leifheit said.

According to Anderson, VITA had an accuracy rate of more than 90 percent in 2012.

“Our volunteer tax preparers are IRS certified and assist community members in claiming special credits and deductions for which they may be eligible,” Shannon Halverson, Goodwill of Northern Illinois marketing manager, said.

People can walk in or make an appointment at one of the two VITA sites offering help through April 13. Those who qualify for assistance should bring a Social Security card, photo ID, all wage forms, college expenses, if any, a property tax bill and bank account information for direct deposit.

Brad Cripe, assistant professor of accounting at NIU, said about 20 college students have volunteered to help out.

“This makes for a good learning tool,” he said.

AARP volunteer tax aides will also provide free help with tax preparation. Although there are no financial limitations for seniors, Leifheit said they must bring a photo ID, a tax form and last year’s tax return.

Although they already have 20 certified tax volunteers and two greeters, Leifheit said anyone interested in helping should call him at 815-757-1800.

“We’ll take anyone willing to help,” said Jackie DiNatale, coordinator of outreach and finance for the Kishwaukee United Way.

Those wishing to file a simple tax return by themselves, Anderson said, can use the computers at the DeKalb County Community Outreach Building, 2500 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb, on Thursdays between Feb. 7 and April 11. This can be done by appointment only; call 815-758-3910 for an appointment.

Those who qualify for the VITA program can also get help filing online at home by going to www.goodwillni.org.

Schmitz said Goodwill also provides mobile tax help for scheduled sites outside DeKalb County. For more information, call 815-987-6200.

VITA Tax Sites

Help available weekly through April 13. Maximum income for an individual is $25,000 or less than $57,000 for a family. Walk in or make an appointment by calling 815-987-6200.

• Goodwill Store, 1037 S. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb
3-8 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays

• Founders Memorial Library Student Lounge, 217 Normal Road, DeKalb
4-8 p.m. Wednesdays

AARP Tax Sites

Help available Feb. 2 to April 13. This service is targeted toward seniors; no income restrictions.

• DeKalb County Community Outreach Building, 2500 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb
9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays, by appointment only (815-758-3910)

• DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St., DeKalb
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays

• DeKalb Senior Service Center, 330 Grove St., Suite 3, DeKalb
1-4 p.m. Tuesdays, by appointment only (815-758-4718)

• Sycamore United Methodist Church, 160 Johnson Ave., Sycamore
Noon-4 p.m. Wednesdays

• Ideal Industries Product Training Room, 1122 Park Ave., Sycamore
9 a.m.-noon Saturdays

• Kirkland Municipal Building, 511 W. Main St., Kirkland
1-4 p.m. Tuesdays, by appointment only (815-522-3557 or 815-784-6040)

• Resource Bank, 310 S. Route 23, Genoa
9 a.m.-noon Fridays and Saturdays

To get a ride to any location, call 815-758-6641 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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