Trained volunteers provide free tax assistance on Peninsula
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Tax-Aide volunteer Hearst Coen, left, reviews Raena Young's tax return at the library. With Young is her daughter, Lucia. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

Peninsula Daily News

The trained and certified Tax-Aide volunteers who are preparing 2009 federal income taxes for free across the North Olympic Peninsula have helped a steady stream of people in the last four weeks but haven't seen the rush of past years.

"It seems that the [number of] people we are seeing this year is down from last year," said Tax-Aide's Kathy Schreiner, speaking for the drop-in site at Port Angeles Library on Tuesday.

"We don't know if people are delaying coming in or if they are taking advantage of our offering appointments, but we haven't had the backlog like we've had last years.

"It's a good thing when people don't have to wait."

Appointments must be made in Sequim -- for the first time this year -- as well as in Forks, Port Townsend and Chimacum.

The Port Angeles Library site is a drop-in center, with no appointments taken. Appointments can be made at the Port Angeles Senior Center, but drop-ins also are welcomed.

Tax-Aide volunteers charge nothing for the electronic filing.

They began providing the tax preparation service Feb. 1 and will continue through April 15.

Clallam County

The schedule in Clallam County is:

• Port Angeles: Port Angeles Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and at the Port Angeles Library from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays, except for the week beginning March 29, when the library will be closed. Appointments can be made at the senior center by phoning 360-457-7004.

• Sequim: By appointment from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays, and from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays. Phone 360-683-6806.

• Forks: By appointment at the Forks Recreation Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, March 13 and 27, and April 10. Phone 360-374-6193.

Jefferson County

The schedule in Jefferson County is:

• Port Townsend: By appointment at the Port Townsend Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. Phone 360-385-9007.

• Chimacum: By appointment at the Tri-Area Community Center from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays. Phone 360-732-4822.

Taxpayers should bring W-2s, 1099s forms and documents necessary for the 2009 return; a copy of last year's return; evidence of real estate taxes paid in 2009; evidence of vehicle price and sales taxes paid if a new vehicle was purchased in 2009; evidence of energy-efficiency improvements to an existing home; if a first-time home buyer in 2009, evidence of home purchase; and a photo ID card and Social Security card for the taxpayer and dependents.

Tax-Aide volunteers are focused on helping seniors and those with low or moderate incomes, "because they need the help," Schreiner said, but can help anyone.

"There's no set income level," she said.

"We're limited more by the scope of the taxpayer's return than by income," she added. "Our clientele is more dependent on what we are certified to do."

The volunteers are not trained to handle rental income taxes or taxes for businesses that employ workers or have depreciation, she said.

They can help self-employed people with no employees, and can itemize dedications -- if the taxpayer has enough.

Standard deductions are higher this year, she noted.

The standard deduction for married filing jointly is $11,400.

"If they own a home, they can add real estate taxes up to $1,000," Schreiner said.

The standard deduction for a single person is $5,700, and for a head of household, $8,350.

"To make sense for people to itemize, they have to be above those thresholds and usually they aren't unless they have mortgage payments, large medical bills or large charitable deductions."

For more information, phone Schreiner at 360-681-3811.

Last modified: March 03. 2010 12:35AM
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