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Free tax assistance provided in March

Free tax assistance will be provided at Drake Community Library in March. Photo by Elena Copell.

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach is providing free tax preparation assistance for low- to moderate-income families in Poweshiek County next month.

The program, run by IRS-certified volunteers, helps families to file both federal and state tax returns. “[Professor Emeritus] Emily Moore, [math], helps us with our volunteers. … We have nine volunteers of all different backgrounds that help us, so that is what helps us a lot with this program,” said Catherine Lents, Executive Director of the Poweshiek County Extension.

Since the program is in place to support families who cannot afford the costs of conventional tax preparation services, qualifying families must have a household income below $55,000.

“It’s to help those people so they don’t have to pay a big expense to a tax preparer,” said Lents. “They don’t have to pay that cost of the tax preparer … and we have very qualified people … because that can cost over $100 for some people … so we are cutting the cost right there.”

By keeping the service free, low- to moderate-income families are not only benefitting from cutting out the costs of a tax preparer, but are also often receiving large tax returns that they would not have been able to receive without the tax assistance program.

Certain returns, such as farm and rental income, cannot be filed by the assistance program. However, Lents is happy to point those people in the right direction. “If we’re not able to do their tax preparation we try to send them to the right person … to help them. … So we do give some input in helping those families.”

The program had formerly been run by MICA (Mid-Iowa Community Action), but after being dropped for a year, the ISU extension picked it up. It has now been running for three years, funded through a generous grant from the IRS and continues to be a popular resource across the State. “It’s very popular. … In Des Moines and Iowa City … they go a longer period of time. We go six weeks just because of our volunteer base, I don’t want to burn them out … but it’s very, very popular all over,” said Lents.

For anyone interested in learning more about the tax assistance program, Lents added, “they can contact myself … or Emily [Moore]; she’s really accessible as she’s with the College … They could just make a phone call or email one of us. We’d be glad to help them.”

The tax assistance program runs at Drake Community Library every Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. until March 9, and every Wednesday 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. until March 13.

Free tax assistance will be provided at Drake Community Library in March. Photo by Elena Copell.
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