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Volunteers offer free tax assistance

Karl Horeis

With the April 15 deadline looming, volunteers helped taxpayers prepare their returns Saturday at the Friends In Service Helping office in Carson City. They’re taking appointments for April 10 as well.

“Some people volunteer to help with muscular dystrophy – some people volunteer to help with taxes,” explained volunteer Stew MacRitchie.

He was helping people fill out returns manually to be sent in through the mail. In the next room volunteer Carol Davis was helping a man fill out his forms on a computer to be filed via the Internet.

“We just want to make sure everyone gets the benefits they’re qualified for like earned income credits and child tax credits,” MacRitchie said.

He and the other volunteers are part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance group which is certified by the Internal Revenue Service. They’ve been volunteering their services at FISH for 15 years.

Rose and Richard Brown of Carson City appreciate the help.

“It’s good that they take the time off on their weekends to help people out,” said Richard Brown. “We were going to H&R Block and of course they charge over a hundred bucks – so it’s more money in my pocket.”

Davis helped Richard Brown and his wife get the most out of some savings bonds they took out when their son was a child. Now a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, they’re cashing in the bonds to pay for his schooling. Because the bonds were used to pay for education, the Browns got a partial reduction on the tax on their interest.

“Very, very few people get involved in that because most people don’t plan ahead enough to purchase the bonds in advance,” MacRitchie said. “There’re a whole bunch of different credits like that.”

The Browns have done their taxes with the volunteers at FISH for two years now. They plan to go next year as well.

“I just appreciate it, shoot,” said Brown.

MacRitchie, a retired construction supervisor, has also volunteered at the senior center twice a week since 1989. He’s part of another group called Tax Counseling for the Elderly which is affiliated with AARP. They have helped about 470 seniors in Carson City file their returns so far this year. At FISH the VITA volunteers have sent in 81 federal returns – 32 of which were e-files – and two state returns.

The volunteers prefer people to have an appointment. To set one up at the Carson City FISH office for April 10 – the last day for free assistance – call 882-8448 during business hours.

“We’ll take care of walk-ins if we have time,” MacRitchie said.

The FISH office is at 138 E. Long St. Free tax assistance is also being offered at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center, 911 Beverly Drive, 883-0703; Douglas County Library, 265-1093; Douglas County Senior Center, 2300 Meadow Lane, Gardnerville, 783-6455; and South Douglas County Sheriff’s Substation in Topaz, (775) 266-1028.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.