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VITA Tax Assistance program available at UMPI this spring

Wednesday, 01 February 2012

Area volunteers with the AARP Tax-Aide Program will be available on Saturdays at the University of Maine at Presque Isle during the next two months to help members of the community prepare their tax returns.

This free service will be provided by volunteers every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Feb. 4 to April 14 in Room 118 of UMPI’s Campus Center. The work these volunteers are doing is connected to the VITA [Volunteer Income Tax Assistance] and TCE [Tax Counseling for the Elderly] programs.

According to Lowell Glidden, district coordinator, these programs allow volunteers to prepare individuals' income tax returns (both federal and state) and electronically file them at no charge. All volunteers participating in the program have undergone training, passed the qualifying IRS examinations, and are certified tax preparers.

New this year, the United Way of Aroostook is partnering with Women, Work and Community to offer CA$H Coaching sessions in the Owl's Nest during the above dates and times. According to United Way of Aroostook Site Coordinator Pam Palm, the local United Way received a grant from KeyBank to offer the CA$H Coaching program during VITA sessions this year so that people taking advantage of the tax preparation program would be able to learn about other important assistance programs and services available in the area, from heating assistance to home buying to food pantry services.

The VITA program, which originated with the Tax Reform Act of 1969 and is administered by the Internal Revenue Service, offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income individuals who cannot afford professional assistance, according to an IRS fact sheet. More than 35,000 volunteers participating in the VITA tax preparation program will aid approximately 2.6 million individuals nationwide this year including an estimated 500 from the Caribou and Presque Isle region.

Individuals who utilize these services should bring the following items with them in order to get their tax returns processed: a driver's license or photo ID; social security number or individual tax identification number for each person included in the tax return; W-2 forms; a copy of last year's tax return, if available; and a record of 2011 property or real estate taxes. Also, those who purchased a car between February and December, 2011, should bring a copy of their sales tax invoice. If filing jointly, spouses must be present. Please note that, depending on the individual situation, other information, documentation or forms may need to be provided.

The University will be the only Presque Isle location for individuals to go to receive this service; however, there will also be services available in Caribou at the Lions Building on High Street on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Assistance is provided on a first come first served basis. For more information, contact Lowell Glidden at 769-7651.