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As you may already know, the deadline for filing the Federal and State income taxes is Tuesday, April 18th. This is the third year in a row that taxes fall due on a day other than the traditional April 15th. You can thank Abraham Lincoln for those three extra days you have to submit your returns. April 15th falls on a Saturday this year, so you might think that Monday, April 17th, would be the next logical deadline to file. But April 16th is Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington D.C. that celebrates President Abraham Lincoln signing a bill that ended slavery in Washington. Then, to complicate matters further, April 16th falls on a Sunday this year, meaning Emancipation Day won’t be officially observed until Monday, April 17th. For that reason, tax day gets bumped to Tuesday, April 18th 2017. Now aren’t you glad to know that!

For many folks filling out tax forms can be a struggle, and they could use some help. Nobody wants to spend a lot of money, or maybe they don’t have the money, to pay for tax help. If you are getting a refund, you don’t want that refund eaten up by tax preparation and other fees that are often charged by commercial tax preparation services. In Wayne Township there is a solution to this problem.

At the Waynedale Branch Library (2200 Lower Huntington Road) AARP volunteers offer free tax preparation help on Tuesdays from noon to 4 p.m. For this program there is no income or age guidelines, the only limit is that service is given on a first-come, first-serve basis and sometimes time runs out before everyone is helped. I talked with the librarians there who explained how they handle getting as many people served as possible. Even though the Waynedale branch doesn’t officially open its doors until 10:00 am, a roll of numbers is put out front of the branch starting at 8:00 am. You can go there at 8:00, pull a number, and then bring that number back at 11:45 (She said they start a little early) to be called for the next available assistant.

That program is running through April 18th, 2017.

Several other free tax preparation sites for low and moderate income individuals are located within Wayne Township and Allen County. The sites are open on different days of the week and at different times for persons making $54,000 a year or less.

For example the Allen County Financial Stability Partnership, the VolunteerCenter, the United Way, and 211 have joined forces to offer free tax preparation at several sites including St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1101 Lafayette St. on Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays, from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm (doors open at 1:30 pm) and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (doors open at 8:30 am) The American Red Cross at 1212 California Rd. is open from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday. These programs will end on April 12, 2017.

Most of the tax preparation sites do not require appointments and several have Spanish and Burmese translators. Those seeking additional information about the tax preparation sites may call 211—First Call for Help.

To take advantage of one of the free tax preparation programs, you should bring a picture identification; Social Security cards or ITIN numbers for everyone in the family; W2’s, unemployment and 1099 forms; name and address of landlord or property tax information; child care expenses with name, address and Social Security number of provider; bank account information, and a copy of last year’s tax return, if possible.

We are very careful here at Wayne Township to inform every client about the free tax preparation programs. Pursuant to our Eligibility Standards, any money spent by clients to have their taxes prepared may be deducted from their Township Assistance. That is because clients should not waste money paying for a service they could receive for free.

We further advise clients that they should use any money they might receive as a tax refund first toward paying for their basic necessities or they could be denied assistance. This may sound a bit harsh, but it only makes sense. Along with our role of providing assistance for those in need, we must be mindful of our role as guardian of taxpayers’ funds. So, if a client has funds in the form of a tax refund, the client should use that refund first to pay for his or her basic necessities.

On a lighter note, remember that April Fools day is a good time to get a little laughter and relieve the stress of Tax Day.

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Richard A. Stevenson - Wayne Township Trustee

Wayne Township Trustee Rick Stevenson was elected Trustee in November of 2006 and took office in January of 2007. He is very passionate about helping those in need and considers it a privilege to be in a position to be able to help. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer