Mahube gears up to help file tax returns
Does the thought of filing your own state and federal tax returns, whether online or by mail, give you chills? Are you unsure of whether a 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ is the form you need? Then give the offices of Mahube-Otwa Community Action a call. T...
Does the thought of filing your own state and federal tax returns, whether online or by mail, give you chills?
Are you unsure of whether a 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ is the form you need?
Then give the offices of Mahube-Otwa Community Action a call. The friendly, fully-certified tax preparers of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program are ready and willing to help.
Offered free of charge through the auspices of Mahube-Otwa Community Action - which supplies many of its volunteers through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) - the VITA program is a boon to thousands of lakes area residents who would otherwise be unable to afford professional assistance in preparing their tax returns each year.
Partially funded by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, and monitored directly by the Internal Revenue Service, this program employs the services of about 14 volunteer tax preparers who genuinely love their work - or they undoubtedly wouldn’t go through the necessary 40 hours of online and classroom coursework required for certification.
“All of our volunteers are certified as tax preparers at an advanced level,” says program coordinator Karen Lenius, who is the RSVP and senior programs director for Mahube-Otwa.
“We serve low to moderate income residents, with special attention to seniors,” she added.
And their client list is growing. Last year, Mahube-Otwa’s VITA tax preparers filed 1,483 federal returns, and another 700-800 rent rebate and property tax refund forms.
“That’s a lot of work our volunteers did,” Lenius said.
And lest anyone suspect that a volunteer tax preparer does less-than-accurate work, Mahube-Otwa’s VITA program was subject to a monitoring visit by reviewers from the IRS last year.
“We got a 100 percent compliance rating in all areas,” Lenius said. “That’s pretty significant.”
Mahube-Otwa began taking appointment requests on Tuesday, with appointments scheduled to begin Wednesday, Jan. 28.
“We have three appointment stations set up,” Lenius said, which means that anywhere from one to three tax preparers may be working at any one time, though appointments may not all be on the same schedule.
Tax assistance appointments may be set up anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the Mahube-Otwa offices in Detroit Lakes, starting Jan. 28, and on Saturdays at the Detroit Lakes Public Library from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., starting Feb. 7.
Call 218- 847-1385 or 1-888-458-1385 to schedule your appointment today.
Tax assistance will also be available at the Mahube-Otwa offices in Park Rapids (218- 732-7204 or 1-800-450-1385) and Mahnomen (218-935-5022) starting Feb. 2, and in Wadena (218-632-3600), starting Feb. 3.
Clients are asked to show up 15 minutes prior to their scheduled appointment, to give them time to fill out the required intake form, and bring along the following information:
- Valid picture ID for both taxpayer and spouse;
- Copy of last year’s federal tax return;
- Social Security cards for all individuals claimed on the tax return;
- Income documentation including W-2 forms from all jobs worked in 2014;
- Any 1099 forms from 2014, to document other income received;
- Blank check for direct deposit of refund, or bring your bank account name, number, and 9-digit American Bankers’ Association (ABA) routing number.
All tax filers must be present at the tax appointment.
“One new responsibility our tax preparers have this year was brought about by the Affordable Care Act,” Lenius said.
“If you purchased health insurance through MNsure or the (federal) Marketplace, you will need to bring your form 1095A,” Lenius said. “That should have been mailed out to you by MNsure.”
The 1095A form contains information about any tax credits or exemptions the client may be entitled to as a result of being insured through MNsure or a similar program, she added.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes .