Free tax filing help avalable throughout Northern Utah

Monday , February 12, 2018 - 5:15 AM

Why pay for tax filing help when you can get it for free?

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free services for people whose yearly individual or household income is $54,000 or less, as well as those with disabilities or limited English who are unable to prepare their own tax returns. 

If your yearly income is $66,000 or less, free help is available online.

“It really is a quality service,” said Ella Mitchell, 2-1-1 manager at United Way of Northern Utah. “Their accuracy rate is higher than the average tax preparer you pay for.”

Once a tax return has been prepared, the work is always verified by a second IRS-certified volunteer before it’s submitted, Mitchell said.

In the past, VITA appointments typically were managed by the 2-1-1 program. But this year, most of the programs aren’t accepting appointments.

Elisa Balderas, a Weber County VITA coordinator, said dropping the appointments has helped the programs to run smoother and to help more people at the five sites she oversees.

“We had people make appointments and not come,” she said of past years. “I feel like it’s a lot better.”

While she has noticed a cluster of people arriving just before her sites have opened in the last two weeks, she said she sees people getting the help they need in an orderly fashion this year. With four to six volunteers working at each site, she said people filter through the programs fairly rapidly.

She expects an increase over the 1,100 people her sites helped last year.

One site still taking volunteers is the Collages of Hope in Ogden.

When people call the nonprofit for an appointment, workers start to prepare ahead of time to be helped they go through what they need, said Chris Swaner, chief financial officer at Cottages of Hope.

Swaner believes the process runs smoother with appointments as those who don’t qualify are weeded out as they call for appointments, he said.

“They can’t have a complicated return or rental income,” he said. “We go over all of that when they call.”

According to official information released by the VITA program, volunteers can’t prepare returns for businesses or that involve complex stock transactions.

Generally, those who take advantage of the program, need to bring along photo identification, Social Security cards for everyone on the tax return, birth dates for everyone on the tax return and wage and earning statement(s) from all employers (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R).

Also needed are interest and dividend statements from banks (forms 1099), other relevant information about income and expenses, total amounts paid for day care and day care provider's Tax ID number, and proof of health insurance or Marketplace eligibility for the Affordable Care Act.

If available, participants need a copy of last year's federal and state returns, bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit

The list of sites and times for the free help follows: 

Walk-in sites

Weber County:

Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership, Inc., 3159 Grant Ave. in Ogden. Open 5-8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through April 17. Closed President’s Day. Spanish available

Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah, 2504 F. Ave. in Ogden. Open 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through April 11. Spanish available.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis, 5051 South 1900 West in Roy. Open 5-8 p.m. Wednesdays through April 11.

Weber State University Community Education Center, 2955 Harrison Blvd Suite 102 in Ogden. Open from 5-8 p.m. Mondays through April 16. Closed Feb. 19 and March 5.

Ogden-Weber Technical College, 200 North Washington Blvd. in Ogden. Go to the Student Success Center on the south side of campus, room 106. Campus map available here. Open 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through April 17.

Davis County:

Open Doors, formerly Family Connection Center, 875 East Highway 190 in Layton. Open 8:30 a.m. to noon Wednesdays through April 11.

Family Enrichment Center, 320 South 500 East in Kaysville. Open 5:30-8 p.m. Thursdays through April 12. Closed April 5.

Bountiful City Government, 790 South 100 East in Bountiful. Open 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through April 11.

Clearfield City Government, 55 South State St, Clearfield. Open 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays through April 11.

Layton City Government, 437 North Wasatch Drive in Layton. Open 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through April 12.

North Salt Lake Government, 10 East Center Street in North Salt Lake. Open 5-8 p.m. Thursdays through April 12.

Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center, 485 PARC Circle in Clearfield. 3:30-5 p.m. Tuesdays through April 17.

Box Elder County: 

Bridgerland Technology College, 325 West 100 South in Brigham City. Open from 5-7:30 p.m. Thursdays through April 12.

Bear River Valley Senior Center, 510 West 100 North in Tremonton, Open from 5-8 p.m. Fridays through April 13. 

Appointment Sites

Weber County:

Cottages of Hope, 2724 Washington Blvd. in Ogden. Open 4-8 p.m. Tuesdays, 1-5 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to noon until Feb. 24. Tuesday and Friday appointments run through March 30. Call 801-393-4011 to schedule an appointment. Spanish available.

T.O. Smith Elementary, 3295 Gramercy Ave. in Ogden. Open 3:30-6:30 p.m Tuesdays through March 30. Call 801-393-4011 to schedule an appointment. Spanish available. (Because of a grant that pays for the program, this site only serves those identified as having a student who will attend Ogden High School.)

Davis County:

Weber State University Davis Campus, 2750 University Park Blvd., room D-104, in Layton. Open 3-7 p.m Fridays through March 2. Call 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment. Although a recording at 2-1-1 may state that no appointments are being taken, 2-1-1 does still take appointments for this site, Mitchell said.  

Morgan County:

Morgan County Library, 50 North 100 West in Morgan. Open 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays through April 11. Call 801-829-3402 to schedule an appointment.

Those who cannot attend during any of these times or at these locations may join households who earn under $66,000 a year in filing taxes free online.

The United Way and H&R Block have teamed up to create a free do-it-yourself online tax preparation program at myfreetaxes.com.

Mitchell said the program is easy to use. “You can take pictures of your W2s,” she said. “It is fantastic software. It does your federal and your state and it’s just slick.”

Call 2-1-1 or visit utahtaxhelp.org or uwnu.org/file-your-taxes-free for more information.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis. 

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