Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tax help available for veterans

Tomorrow, February 15, select volunteer income tax preparation sites across Michigan will be celebrating all men and women who served in the Armed Service by offering free income tax preparation services. At sixteen locations across the state, any military veteran in Michigan will qualify to have their federal, state and city income taxes prepared and filed for free by an IRS-certified volunteer tax preparer. Sites will also provide information on different veteran services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Michigan Taxpayer Advocate Office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Financial Counseling for Veterans initiative.

There will be two locations available within the city of Detroit. AAS Piquette Square (6221 Brush St. in Southwest) will be open from 10 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Also, the Wayne Metro CAA/Michigan Veterans Foundation (4626 Grand River, just south of W. Warren Ave.) will be open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“It’s hard to think of organizations who are as dedicated to helping my fellow veterans prepare and file their taxes and receive other important information on financial services and programs,” said State Senator David Knezek (D- Dearborn Heights). “Receiving quality, no-cost services like those offered by CEDAM members is a welcome gesture for the men and women who served our great nation.”

Every year, more than 100,000 Michigan taxpayers get their taxes prepared and filed for free at either a volunteer income tax assistance (VITA), tax counseling for the elderly (TCE) or AARP Tax Aide site. These sites are staffed with volunteers who have been certified by the IRS to prepare income taxes – a training certification that is not required of commercial tax preparers. Usually, there is an income limit of $54,000 to access this high-quality, free service, but on Wednesday, February 15 there will be no income limit for veterans in Michigan.

“As a veteran and former employee of the Michigan Department of Treasury, I understand the importance for taxpayers to receive all eligible and deserved tax credits,” said State Representative Tom Barrett (R – Potterville). “That is why I am so pleased that these free volunteer tax sites across Michigan are stepping up to the plate to give Michigan veterans a quality service and ensure they receive all their eligible tax credits.”
 
In addition to being trained on federal tax law, all VITA/TCE and AARP Tax Aide volunteer preparers are also trained to be sure that every eligible client receives Michigan tax credits like the Michigan Property Tax Credit (MPT) and the Home Heating credit (HHC). In 2016, more than 105,000 Michigan taxpayers used a free tax service, avoiding high-pressure sales pitches for high-cost tax loans and saving more than $14.6 million in tax preparation fees.

“I am pleased to join these IRS certified free tax sites in honoring the men and women who answered the call to serve our nation and protect our freedoms by helping to ensure they receive quality assistance in filing their taxes from highly-trained and IRS certified volunteers,” said Ross H. Yednock, program director of the Michigan Economic Impact Coalition (MEIC) at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). “I hope that by helping to serve those who served prepare and file their federal, state and city income taxes, we can make their tax filing season a little easier.”

The MEIC is a program of CEDAM and helps support organizations and local initiatives committed to supporting tax credit and asset building opportunities for Michigan families. All taxpayers are encouraged to go to www.MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org in advance of filing their taxes to receive valuable information regarding federal and state tax credits. The website is maintained by the CEDAM to help connect Michigan workers with free services and free tax sites which save working families money on tax preparation fees and connects them to other quality, low-cost financial services to help increase their financial security.

Taxpayers in Michigan have several options for free help determining their eligibility and claiming credits. They can go to a VITA, TCE or AARP Tax Aide site or prepare their own taxes using a free internet-based tool with assistance from a VITA volunteer either in person or over the phone.

To help accurately determine eligibility and prepare returns at a free tax site, individuals should bring photo proof of identification as well as:

  • Social Security cards for themselves, their spouse and dependents or Social Security number verification letters issued by the Social Security Administration;
  • Birth dates for all persons listed on the tax return;
  • Wage and earning statement(s) Forms W-2, W-2G and 1099-R from all employers;
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099);
  • Copies of last year’s federal and state returns, if available;
  • Bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit of their refunds;
  • Other relevant information about income and expenses; and
  • Amounts paid for day care, if applicable and the day care provider's identifying number.

To electronically file their returns and get the fastest refunds, both spouses must be present to sign joint returns.

To locate a volunteer income tax assistance site in Michigan, or connect with volunteer assisted self-preparation tools, visit www.MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org or call Michigan 2-1-1.
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