Monday, December 12, 2016

Free Tax Site gears up for 2017

By Julia Cheng
For The Hillsider 
Volunteer Recruitment
Community Action Duluth is seeking volunteers for the Free Tax Site. Walk-in clinics operate Mondays and Tuesdays, 4:30 – 9:00 pm and Saturdays, 8:45 am – 1:00 PM, January 28 – April 17.

The Tax Site depends on 80-95 volunteers every year to help more than 1500 families and individuals file their tax returns for free. Experience doing taxes or working for a tax-filing business is a plus, but we provide all necessary training, and there are other ways to help besides preparing returns. Volunteers from the community we serve, tax site clients and CAD staff are all partners in running an excellent program.

New volunteer orientations take place throughout December at CAD’s main offices in the former Lincoln Park School, 2424 West 5th Street. Tax preparer training begins on January 3. A first-year preparer starts with an introduction to basic tax concepts, and continues with required trainings in federal tax law, Minnesota tax law and TaxSlayer Pro Online return preparation software.  People who have used online tax prep sites like or Intuit TurboTax may find TaxSlayer quite user friendly.

Tax site assistants train to screen clients – helping them complete the intake process and get ready for a successful tax site visit.  

Bring your Social Security card or ITIN card to the Tax Site
VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) tax sites must now verify the social security number of each person on a tax return with one of these acceptable documents:
·      Original Social Security card
·      Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration
·      Medicaid Card (with letter “A” after the Social Security number)
·      Form SSA-1099, Social Security benefits statement or any document issued by the Social Security Administration. Truncated numbers (“XXX-XX-1234”) are acceptable.
·      ITIN card or letter

Make sure to bring these documents to the CAD Free Tax Site or other VITA tax sites in Duluth.

PATH Act holds on EITC and ACTC refunds take effect in 2017
The IRS will hold tax year 2016 refunds that include Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit until February 15, 2017. Taxpayers should still file returns as usual, and the IRS will process returns as they receive them.
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (“PATH”) extended or preserved tax credits set to expire in 2017. Many of these tax credits benefit families who use the Tax Site. However, Section 201 of the PATH Act also “provides additional time for the IRS to review refund claims based on the earned income tax credit and refundable portion of the child tax credit in order to reduce fraud and improper payments,” beginning in 2017.

No one can get you your federal refund faster than the IRS releases it, and if they say they can it will probably cost you money. Electronic filing through a VITA tax site and direct deposit of refunds can still minimize your wait time. The IRS will release all pending EITC and ACTC refunds on February 15. Refunds from returns filed after February 15 are not subject to this hold.

Julia Cheng

(Julia Cheng is the Community Action Duluth Tax Site Program Manager)