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Fred Galanga, left, helps Bob and Jewell Ferrell with their taxes on Thursday.  Galanga volunteers with Tax-Aide, a national organization of volunteers who prepare income tax returns and provide assistance to middle- to low-income taxpayers.  Free tax services are available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Trinity Lutheran Church, 705 Wilson Ave.

Free tax services for locals are available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Tullahoma. The church is located at 705 Wilson St.

The service is provided through the AARP Tax-Aide program, a national organization of volunteers who prepare income tax returns and provide assistance to middle- to low-income taxpayers with special attention to those age 60 and over, said Jim Peissig, district coordinator for Tax-Aide.

“All of our tax services are free,” Peissig said. “We help people file their income tax returns easily, quickly, accurately.”

The tax counselors live in the area and volunteer to help their neighbors, added Peissig.

“The tax counselors are provided training and test materials from the IRS to assure that they are well prepared to complete tax returns for our clients,” Peissig said. “Each counselor is required to complete and pass a test each year in order to be certified by the IRS to prepare and submit income tax returns.”

The IRS and AARP Foundation support this tax service by providing computers equipped with tax compliance software.

 

What do you need?

Those planning to take advantage of the service have to prepare of packet of documents.

“A good place to start preparing a person’s tax return is to find last year’s tax return,” Peissig said. “If you bring that with you, it will be of great help in preparing this year’s return.

“What you must bring is all those pieces of paper you’ve been receiving in the mail – the 1099 forms from your bank and your retirement plan. If you’re working, you should have received a W-2 statement from your employer.”

Those with savings accounts or brokerage accounts need to bring a statement that shows interest, dividends and any sales of stock.

“If you’re receiving Social Security, be sure and bring in your statement from the Social Security Administration,” Peissig said. “Bring along your Social Security card for yourself, for a spouse and for any dependents.”

 

Exceptions

Some individuals and groups would not be eligible for the free program.

“The tax returns we don’t complete are for individuals operating a business or that maintain inventories; people with rentals and farm schedules that include depreciable equipment or livestock; and anyone with more than a couple rental properties,” Peissig said.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) may impact some people this tax season, said Peissig.

“The ACA created the new Premium Tax Credit and the Shared Responsibility Payment that may affect your tax return if health insurance was purchased on the government exchange,” Peissig said. “The elimination of the mandate penalty does not go into effect until 2019 tax year.”

Through Tax-Aide, federal income tax return is e-filed. E-filing is a paperless, electronic way of submitting tax returns to the IRS, said Peissig.

E-filing has several benefits.

“First, the taxpayer doesn’t have to worry about mailing anything,” Peissig said. “Second, there are no errors caused by an IRS employee transcribing information from the return into the IRS system. Third, and best of all, if you have a refund coming, it will arrive faster. Plus, we can direct the refund directly into your bank account if you want. If tax is owed, then you can determine what date to send the money to the IRS even though you e-file today.”

E-filing is provided by Tax-Aide at no charge.

 

Volunteering

Qualified tax preparers are ready to help locals meet the “tax compliance burden,” said Peissig.

Fred Galanga is one of the volunteers in Tullahoma. He participates because he wants to give back to the community, said Galanga.

“This is my fourth year of volunteering,” Galanga said. “I retired years ago and I started four years ago doing this, and I just love doing it.”

Galanga enjoys getting to know locals.

“We get a lot of repeat customers, “Galanga says. “We like repeat customers – it makes our job easy because they bring their tax returns, and we get to know them from [seeing] them year after year.”

Last year the program helped 386 individuals in Tullahoma, said Galanga.

“But we had seven volunteers, and this year we are down to four volunteers,” Galanga said.

Additional helpers are always appreciated, according to Peissig.

“We are always looking for additional volunteers that we will train to prepare tax returns,” Peissig said.

For more information about becoming a volunteer, call Peissig at 931-205-8414.

 

Scheduling an appointment

In Tullahoma, income tax returns are prepared from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Trinity Lutheran Church.

The church is located at 705 Wilson St.

To schedule an appointment, call Trinity Lutheran Church at 931-455-9475.

In Manchester, the service will be available at the Coffee County Senior Center and at the Ada Wright recreational building.

At the Coffee County Senior Center, income tax returns will be prepared from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Mondays. The center is located at 603 Woodbury Highway in Manchester.

To schedule an appointment, call 931-723-8288.

At the Ada Wright recreational building, income tax returns will be prepared from 8:30 a.m. to noon, on Wednesdays, under a walk-in service arrangement. The Ada Wright recreational building is located at 328 Woodlands St. in Manchester.

Elena Cawley may be reached via email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.