January 31, 2014

Tax filing starting today

Area Five partners with Howard Co. United Way to assist taxpayers.

by Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune

---- — As tax filers begin sending in their forms today, Cass County support organizations are already busy helping taxpayers handle the paperwork.

The local Area Five Agency this year partnered with United Way of Howard County to offer free tax filing assistance with the help of volunteers and a federal grant the Howard County agency received.

Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program run by the Internal Revenue Service, taxpayers with incomes under $51,000 may drop off their tax filing documents at the local Area Five Agency and complete an information form to have their returns prepared for free. The process takes about three business days, a spokeswoman for United Way of Howard County said.

According to the IRS website, the service includes electronic filing and may inform taxpayers of special tax credits for which they may qualify, like the Earned Income Tax Credit.

While the VITA program is in its fifth year in Kokomo, this is the first time the organization has expanded the program outside Howard County borders, according to the director of the VITA program for United Way of Howard County.

Pam Goodman, financial stability coordinator for the organization, estimated about 40 people from Cass and Miami counties had been to Kokomo in each of the program’s previous years to take advantage of the tax assistance.

This year, the organization received a $20,000 grant from the IRS to expand the local VITA program.

She added that United Way of Howard County could use the help of additional volunteers at their two Kokomo VITA sites or at the Area Five Agency offices in Logansport and Peru. Volunteers may perform one of several roles, but those who volunteer to prepare tax returns must undergo about 20 hours of web-based training and pass a volunteer’s standard of conduct test the IRS gives.

Goodman also noted that those earning less than $58,000 may use a free do-it-yourself tax site available at

Those who prepare returns themselves have already been picking up forms they need, another organization indicates.

Over the last several days, library patrons have been stopping in more often to pick up paper copies of Indiana income tax forms or to print out federal forms from one of the library’s two dedicated tax computers, according to a member of the Logansport Library staff.

“The number is definitely picking up,” said Jill Racop, a library assistant.

Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME

If you go: WHO: Indiana residents with annual incomes under $51,000 WHAT: Free tax preparation assistance WHERE: Documents may be dropped off at Area Five Agency, 1801 Smith St. An informational form must also be filled out at the agency. INFO: Call 2-1-1 or 765-868-4133