Tax season inspires warm feelings for me.
I realize that makes me an outlier, or you might think I’m fibbing. And, okay, tax season might also inspire anxiety. But there are definitely warm feelings in the mix because I work at the Greenwood Public Library, an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) host site. I have had the privilege of working with the VITA volunteers for many years. Each year these generous people give up many hours of their personal time to train before the tax season starts. Then they do more than 400 free tax appointments for low-to-mid income individuals at the library. They also help other people with their taxes outside the library as well.
While I don’t find tax preparation a particularly invigorating topic, this group of volunteers, which started with two and has grown to 16 over the years, always has lively conversations about taxes — and March Madness. Most of their appointments are in March in Indiana after all.
Even when IU doesn’t make the tournament, the volunteers convey good spirits, helping members of the public graciously through filing their taxes. Those members of the public might have the anxious feelings tied to taxes that I mentioned above, but the kindness of the VITA volunteers can allay their fears.
The volunteers at the library will save area residents nearly $100,000 in tax filing fees this year. And they have been offering this service for so many years the total savings would probably approach, if not surpass, $1 million dollars.
If you’re thinking you’d qualify for a free tax appointment, I’m sorry to say that all of the library’s appointments are currently full. As are spots at other libraries in the county. However, you might be able to look farther afield for an appointment at Shelby, Marion, or Morgan counties’ VITA, AARP, or United Way sites. You could start searching by calling 211 or visiting www.uwci.org/indy-free-tax-prep.
If you’re willing to tackle online filing on your own and earned less than $79,000 last year, United Way’s myfreetaxes.com might be a good fit for you. You could also investigate the Indiana Department of Revenue’s INFreeFile offerings at www.in.gov/dor/4578.htm. If you will be filing both Indiana and federal taxes, I suggest starting at either of those two sites rather than IRS Free File which might lead to only your federal tax filing being free with a charge for Indiana’s.
There is still the snail mail way of mailing in paper forms if online filing leaves you leery or is too expensive and you don’t want to go to a pay service. Libraries receive very little bulk shipments of forms and instructions these days, especially from the state. You can find 1040 and 1040-SR forms (in English and Spanish), along with 1040 instruction booklets, at most libraries. And librarians can help you find other printable forms online.
If you’re not in a great rush, you can have IRS and Indiana forms mailed to you. Use https://apps.irs.gov/app/taxmat/form-search/ for ordering from the IRS. For Indiana, you can call 317-615-2581 and leave a voicemail with your order (after listening to a long recorded message).
While that is not an exhaustive list, I hope you can find a tax service, either online, in person, or via paper, that fits your needs and your wallet. In the coming weeks, I look forward to listening to the tax volunteers’ camaraderie as they banter among themselves and with their tax clients, leaving everyone a little less anxious this tax season.
Susan Jerger is an Adult Services Librarian at Greenwood Public Library. GPL staff members share in writing this twice-monthly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].