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Local nonprofit offers free tax help to community

"Pay it Forward" with tax filing volunteers

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Tax season is in full swing. For many, the cost of filing will likely eat up any income tax refund. Several local organizations, including, North Kent Connect, are teaming up to make filing more affordable. 

Thanks to dozens of volunteers, North Kent Connect is able to offer tax filing services -- for many clients -- at no cost. The non-profit serves people in Northern Kent County by helping with basic needs and helping people put extra money back in their pockets.

Currently, the average cost of filing taxes is somewhere in the neighborhood of $300. In addition to that, filing mistakes could cost people even more money. However, trained volunteers at North Kent Connect are working to take the stress and expense out of tax season.

"There are a lot of lower-income and elderly people who come in here, says Larry Carpp, volunteer for AARP Tax Aid program. "We don't turn anybody away. We will take anybody who comes in the door and makes an appointment." 

North Kent Connect has about 20 volunteers that come from AARP and the United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Grant Harden, donor relations manager for North Kent, is grateful to have them.

"We definitely could not do this without our volunteers," he says. "These are people who volunteer their time, instead of work, after work or coming in the evenings to help folks get their taxes filed. It really takes an army."

And an army must be fed.  As a show of appreciation and to make sure volunteers have more time to help clients  North Kent provides meals every day. They are asking the community to help them throughout tax season.

"People are always asking us, 'what does North Kent Connect need to help our community?' This is a really small way of making a difference in the lives of people. It doesn't take a lot of time or a lot of money."

"We absolutely love it. And, we thank them too. That is another reason North Kent is our hero. They provide us with a place to do it and all we do is provide the expertise," says Carpp.

Those interested in providing meals can do so for lunch and dinner hours. Each meal should feed between 8 to 10 people. Click here for more information. 

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