Free tax-filing assistance available in area; programs seek volunteers

Two ongoing programs lend help to area taxpayers when it comes to figuring taxes each year.

The AARP Tax Aide program helps seniors and low- to moderate-income taxpayers, while the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides aid to those with low incomes.

Here's a look at what each offers in East Central Illinois:

AARP Tax Aide

AARP Tax Aide is providing free tax assistance and tax-return preparation for seniors and low- to moderate-income people at sites in Urbana, Rantoul, Mahomet, Tolono, Philo and Danville this year.

Volunteers are trained to help file IRS Form 1040 and basic schedules, as well as Illinois Form IL-1040. Taxpayers with more complex returns should seek assistance elsewhere.

Walk-in service will be available at Urbana's Lincoln Square Village through April 15. The office is in the mall's west corridor.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, according to Coni Arseneau, local coordinator for the program.

Service is offered in Rantoul, Mahomet and Philo by appointment only.

– For appointments with a tax volunteer at the Rantoul Public Library, 106 W. Flessner Ave., call 893-3955.

– To arrange an appointment with a volunteer at the Rantoul Recreation Center, 100 E. Flessner Ave., call 893-0461.

– For appointments at the Mahomet Public Library, 1702 E. Oak St., call 586-2611 and you will be given a volunteer's number.

– To arrange an appointment on Fridays at the Tolono Public Library, 111 E. Main St., call the library, 485-5558.

– Appointments at the Philo Public Library, 115 E. Washington St., will be on Thursday afternoons. To arrange an appointment, call Vernon and Doris Meier, 684-2935.

In Danville, walk-in service will be available at the Village Mall from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and in Building 101 of the VA medical center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, according to Jim Smith, the coordinator there.

Both Arseneau and Smith say they would like to offer longer hours, but they're low on volunteers. People interested in volunteering with tax return preparation can contact Arseneau at 398-1416 or Smith at 446-6978. Computer proficiency is encouraged since electronic filing is involved.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Free tax preparation services for low-income people are made available in Champaign and Danville through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

The Chicago-based Center for Economic Progress offers tax assistance at the Boys and Girls Club at 201 E. Park St., C, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. The service opened Jan. 24 but plans to be closed Wednesdays in March.

The walk-in service is free to individuals with incomes of less than $25,000 and families with incomes of less than $50,000.

People should bring their W-2s and 1099s, if any; Social Security cards or individual taxpayer identification numbers for all family members; valid photo ID; a copy of last year's tax return, if available; a bank account number and routing number for direct-depositing any refund; a property tax bill; and the amount spent on college expenses.

There's also a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site in Room 220 of Lincoln Hall at Danville Area Community College, 2000 E. Main St., Danville.

IRS-trained volunteers are available from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays through April 16. Appointments should be made by calling 217-443-8559.

Lyle Hicks, an accounting professor at DACC, established the site, which can make an interpreter available to assist Spanish-speaking taxpayers.

Taxpayers are encouraged to bring all materials listed above for the Champaign site. The Danville site also suggests bringing birth dates for all people listed on the tax return; amounts paid for day care, if applicable; and the day care provider's identifying number.

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