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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Tax prep services for low-income Minnesotans short on volunteers

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Thursday, February 22, 2024   

Minnesotans with low to moderate incomes can turn to free services to help get their tax returns ready to file but some programs are saying a lack of volunteers means they cannot assist everyone.

Community Action Agencies are among the offices helping file income tax returns for qualifying households.

Tara Kaufman, community service specialist for Tri-County Community Action in north-central Minnesota, said they are fortunate to have some volunteers on hand but they are still well short of what is needed to serve additional clients. For example, she pointed out the schedule is booked through April at their Brainerd site.

"It is one area that we have continuously struggled with, is getting other volunteers who might be able to come a few hours a day at one of our sites, for the whole tax season," Kaufman explained.

Even though the tax filing deadline is about a month and a half away, Kaufman still encouraged anyone interested to sign up for training. She noted volunteers could also help with other tasks, allowing the current roster of certified tax preparers to focus on returns. The offices have on-site locations, including at some assisted living facilities and apartment complexes, to help people with transportation barriers.

The federal government does have a free e-file program for eligible households.

Carol Laudenbach, financial program assistant for Lakes and Pines Community Action Council in Mora, said not everyone has internet access. And maintaining no-cost programs ensures individuals dealing with hardships have their tax filing needs met.

"Helping people understand taxes and helping them certainly meet their tax liability," Laudenbach outlined. "We're also committed to having them reap the benefits, as much as they can, of available credits."

Among the credits available in Minnesota is a new Child Tax Credit worth up to $1,750 for each child age 17 and under in qualifying households. Laudenbach added filers can use the refund to cover an expense weighing down their family's budget, as opposed to paying fees collected by tax preparation companies.


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