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Tax help set for rural Iowans

Extension, local partners train volunteers for VITA program

February 12, 2012
Messenger News

AMES (ISU) - Low- and moderate-income Iowans can have their tax returns prepared for free by trained and IRS-certified volunteers at nearly 150 sites across Iowa.

Iowa State University Extension supports Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, one of the programs providing this service.

Extension works with local partners to recruit and train volunteers and provide technical support for VITA sites in 42 rural counties, said Barb Wollan, an ISU Extension family finance specialist.

"These volunteers are qualified to deal with most ordinary types of income, deductions and tax credits, ensuring accurate preparation of tax returns and saving money for taxpayers, averaging $100 or more per return," Wollan said. "Taxpayers with income up to $50,000 are served by VITA sites."

Two counties within the coverage area hosting VITA sites include:

Hamilton, in Webster City. Call (515) 297-1543.

Wright, in Clarion. Call (515) 532-3453.

In 2011, volunteers working at VITA sites in rural Iowa, helped 1,875 low- and moderate-income Iowans complete income tax returns, Wollan said.

ISU specialists recruit volunteers, publicize sites, obtain equipment and supplies, and provide technical support.

ISU became involved with VITA in 2003 to bring free tax preparation into rural areas of Iowa where it previously was unavailable, Wollan said.

Extension is part of a statewide network of organizations focused on enhancing the economic wellbeing of low- and moderate-income families through tax preparation and related educational outreach.



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