Free tax help available in St. John Parish

Published 12:10 am Saturday, February 6, 2016

RESERVE — St. John the Baptist Parish residents can receive free tax preparation assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the VITA program offers free tax help to those who generally make $54,000 or less, those with disabilities, the elderly and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance preparing their own tax returns.

Local appointments can be made for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and are held at the Department of Health and Human Services at 128 Central Ave. in Reserve. The program runs through April 14. To schedule an appointment, call Marisa Wallace at 985-53604955.

Wallace, site coordinator, said IRS certified volunteers are available at the Department of Health and Human Services to provide help.

“I have two quality reviewers, and they oversee the returns; they make sure the clients have all of their tax information, their ID and social security card and they review the information before it gets to me,” Wallace said.

“Then, I actually prepare the return. Once I’m finished with it, one of the quality reviewers, Ms. Shelita Gaylor or Ms. Cheryl Dennis, check to make sure I have it imputed into the system and done correctly.”

There are certain items residents need to bring to their appointments.

According to the St. John Department of Health and Human Services, residents need identification; social security cards for tax payer and tax payer’s dependents; birthdates for tax payer, tax payer’s spouse, and dependents; total amount paid for day care (if applicable), Day Care Provider’s Tax ID number and address; and Homeowners Insurance declaration page (LA Citizens Insurance Tax Credit).

Director of Health & Human Services Rhonda Lemons said VITA is facilitated through community action agencies, health and human services departments and the United Way.

“We have been providing the program to the community since 2008,” Lemons said.

“The site coordinator (Wallace) has gone through training so they can stay up to date on compliances as it relates to policies and requirements for tax payments and preparation. We are up to date on earned income credit and the Affordable Health Care Act as it relates to tax payments preparation.”

The Department of Health and Human Services assisted more 100 individual households last year, Lemons said.