Center for Siouxland seeking volunteers for income tax assistance program

Don’t make tax season harder on yourself by throwing out old tax documents before you should. But how long do you really need to keep them? That depends.

SIOUX CITY — Ellen Dickey begins her 22nd tax season volunteering with Center For Siouxland’s VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, which provides free tax preparation services to those who earned $60,000 or less in 2022.

“I really believe that a lot of people’s lives are better if they get along with the IRS and state tax authorities,” said Dickey, VITA’s website coordinator and a certified public accountant who taught at Briar Cliff University. “I get a lot of satisfaction from helping to make sure people comply and get the refunds they’re entitled to.”

Center for Siouxland, a nonprofit human service agency at 715 Douglas St., is seeking at least 60 volunteers to schedule tax appointments, greet clients or prepare tax returns. Last tax season, Center for Siouxland prepared just over 1,600 tax returns.

“Volunteers are the heart of the VITA program. The more volunteers we have, the greater the impact on our Siouxland community,” said Olivia Benjamin, VITA’s program coordinator and marketing director. “There is a volunteer role for anyone interested in helping and giving back to their community.”

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Volunteer tax preparer training takes place in January with classroom-style instruction. The teaching and training materials cover how to prepare individual income taxes. Benjamin said volunteer hours are flexible with shifts available Monday through Saturday.

In 2021, the average fee to prepare Form 1040 with Schedule A to itemize personal deductions, along with state income tax, was $323, according to the National Society of Accountants. The average fee for a Form 1040 with the standard deduction, plus state income tax, was $220.

“Most of the people we help couldn’t afford to hire a CPA to do their tax return, so we really don’t cut into the work of the business tax preparers — the local CPA firms,” ​​Dickey said. “We’re really dealing with people whose incomes are very low and really, in many cases, wouldn’t file if we didn’t get them into a system like this.”

The 2023 e-tax season begins in January. The federal tax deadline for individuals and small businesses in 2023 is April 18. Americans who choose to prepare their returns themselves will spend 13 hours doing so, on average, according to the IRS.

Dickey said it is not uncommon for an individual who has started filing their tax return online on their own to seek help from VITA.

“We end up seeing a lot of those people because it’s become a lot more complex than it used to be to do a basic tax return,” she said. “The other thing is that the IRS really wants as many people as possible to file electronically, so they don’t want people to fill out the paper forms like they used to and mail them in. They just don’t have the staff to do one. processing. There is restoration quite significantly with paper types of filing.”

Visit to register to volunteer for the VITA program or call Benjamin at 712-252-1861 ext. 108 for more information.


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