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Free Tax Preparation Help for the Asking in Iowa

February 14, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa - Preparing federal and state income tax returns can be complicated and confusing. However, in Iowa, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) accounting students will do the job for free, for those making less than $49,000 a year.

In the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, all the returns are prepared by trained and certified student volunteers, DMACC accounting professor Shey Mears explains.

"They go through a certification process before they actually prepare the taxes. VITA is intended to give them real-world experience: sitting in front of a client and processing their information, asking the right questions."

Those interested in receiving the VITA service should bring in their W-2 forms, interest statements, Social Security numbers and copies of last year's tax returns. The program has lots of repeat business from taxpayers who are happy with the students' tax preparation for them in previous years, Mears says.

"Most of our clients are return clients; they'll come back every year. We're open Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Betts Building at the Urban campus."

The service is also open on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Boone campus, and on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ankeny campus.

Mears adds that the volunteers are particularly interested in identifying taxpayers who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a special tax refund for low-wage earners.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA