Local agencies offer free tax help

9:17 AM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Employers across West Michigan are finally sending out w-2's this week and many people are anxious to file income tax returns.

This year there are so many changes in the tax code. It proves to be not just confusing, but it will likely delay and diminish the amount of money people get from tax refunds.

More than 80 accounting and finance students from colleges across West Michigan are on the job though. They are working with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program this year to make sure lower income clients, seniors and the disabled get every dollar back that they are eligible for, and it's all free of charge.

"They can't afford to pay 100 or 200 dollars to get their taxes done. There was a period of time when people weren't filing or getting the returns that they were entitled to, said Karen Tolan, Associate Director for Community Action Division of ACSET

Judy Knapp, an accounting faculty member for Davenport University, runs the western collegiate partnership VITA program.

She said, "We are going to see people who are going to have delays in refunds and that is not because of your preparers. It is because of the IRS and really goes back to Congress with the fiscal cliff looming so late it was hard for planning."

She says because of that fiscal cliff mess, the IRS won't even begin processing the returns until January 30th. Even then, certain forms may not be ready. Tax preparers will hold those returns until the end of the month and then e-file them.

People will see some changes with city and state taxes as well. For example, Michigan lawmakers have reduced the earned income tax credit and the homestead property tax credit. Tax preparers are expecting to hear a lot of questions about all of this.

Visit the website for the West Michigan Collegiate Partnership Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program for details.


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