Updated 02/24/2011 05:59 AM
Free tax prep offered for low income families
We're in the midst of tax season. It can be a complicated process by itself without worrying about paying for preparation. Our Iris St. Meran has more on an IRS program that prepares state and federal taxes for low to moderate income families for free.
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CENTRAL NEW YORK -- Tax season is usually nerve racking for Carol Stevens. She's retired and on a fixed income, so paying to get her returns prepared adds to her stress.
"I just don't have the money," said Stevens.
But now she doesn't have to be concern about how to pay. She took part in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA, which prepares both state and federal returns for free.
"The IRS has set guidelines that any family making under $49,000, so long as they don't have complicated taxes, that do need a paid preparer can come to P.E.A.C.E. Incorporated or other agencies within the community to have their taxes filed for free," said P.E.A.C.E. Incorporated EITC Coordinator Brendan Ryan.
There are 38 volunteers at the P.E.A.C.E. Incorporated site in Carousel Center. Before they can do anyone's taxes, they go through at least 12 hours of training.
Tax preparation can be a very stressful time. So the goal of the program is to make the taxpayer feel as comfortable as possible during the process.
Ryan said, "What P.E.A.C.E. Incorporated does is not only not charge, but also work with them on different credits that are available and advise them as to best look at each at tax year and do the best that they can for themselves, not only during the year, but at tax time."
So how's Carol Stevens feeling after this?
"I'm always nervous when I get my taxes done, because I think, 'Geez, if I have to pay a lot, where am I going to get it?' You know I don't have it," Stevens said. "He was so easy to talk to. It was just such a breeze and I just feel so relaxed now."
Now she's gotten her worst fears out of the way. Even though she didn't have to pay this year, Stevens says you can't put a price on peace of mind.
There are a number of VITA sites in the area.
Visit www.irs.gov for more information.