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Is your brain taxed to the max? Mahube volunteers ready to help file income taxes

DETROIT LAKES -- Yes, tax season is upon us once again. And Mahube Community Council and AARP Tax Aide Assistance are here to help.

Ten volunteers housed in Mahube are ready to assist with tax return forms. Volunteers are available to do federal, state, rent and property tax refunds, although they do not work on filing for businesses.

"We don't exclude anyone, no income limitations, but we're more for elderly and lower income," Dave Birchem said. Birchem has volunteered with the program for nearly 10 years. The RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) volunteers have been helping prepare tax returns for at least 25 years, RSVP Director at Mahube Karen Lenius said.

Volunteers work three days a week in the Detroit Lakes Mahube office, the Mahnomen office and the Detroit Lakes library. All appointments need to be made through the Mahube office at 847-1385 or 1-888-458-1385. Appointments in Mahnomen can be scheduled at 218-935-5022.

Last year, in Becker County alone, volunteers filed 1,200 tax returns for clients. That translated into $964,000 in returns for those clients.

Returns are mostly filed on-line, which have a one- to two-week return, with a couple exceptions for paper filing. Lenius said it's that one- to two-week return why RSVP uses the Internet.

"Refunds come in a more timely way," she said.

RSVP volunteers are re-certified each year due to constant changes in tax laws, she said.

"We're certified by passing a written test to do returns or even to counsel people," Birchem added, who is the lead instructor on site.

"They do accurate, timely, kindly work," Lenius said. Especially with her, she added, because this is her first year serving as RSVP director.

One of the more important parts of tax filing, Birchem said, is the Earned Income Tax Credit.

"It can be substantial refunds," he said. Even if a family or individual doesn't have a large in-come, the credit is based on income and could "benefit if they have earned income."

In the partnership between Mahube and AARP, Mahube provides the office space and technology, staff to make appointments for those calling in, and Lenius as director.

AARP provides funds for the training and reimbursement for those traveling to help out in the Mahnomen office.

Appointments begin today (Monday) -- Mahube had already set up 56 appointments as of Tuesday -- and go through April 15. There is no charge for the service, but it is encouraged for taxpayers of all ages with low to middle income.

The "expertise and years of experience," Lenius said, make her team such a successful unit.

Those coming in to Mahube for a tax appointment must bring Social Security cards for every-one included on the tax return. If you are receiving SS benefits, bring form SSA1099. Also bring 2006 income tax return and cur-rent tax materials to the appointment.