Taxing Time

Amber Roberts, right, assists Deep Gap resident Jacob Smit with his tax forms in 2012 at the Watauga County Public Library.

BOONE — The Watauga County Public Library is in its 10th year of offering tax assistance for the 2020 filing season.

Services will operate at the library, located on 140 Queen St., Boone, until April 4. Hours are Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. There will be no service on Friday, April 10, nor Saturday, April 11.

The library program works with the Volunteer for Tax Assistance program, which provides free income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible low- to moderate-income Watauga County residents, those who made $56,000 or less in 2019. The program operates in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service and receives financial support from the Friends of the Library and the IRS.

Volunteers are trained to be certified tax preparers through the IRS. Most of the volunteers come from the accounting department at Appalachian State University.

Residents are encouraged to file a tax return to claim the tax benefits they earned with the Earned Income Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Workers could overlook and miss out on up to $6,557 extra in their federal income tax refunds through the Earned Income Tax Credit and as much as $2,000 per qualifying child for the Child Tax Credit. ASU students and their parents may be eligible for education credits.

The tax preparers will tell you if you are eligible for any of these credits. Anyone interested in making an appointment may call the library at (828) 264-8784, ext. 2, and speak with the Adult Services Department.

The library program began in 2011 with Rao Aluri as the site coordinator. Matthew Upton, a graduate student in accounting at Appalachian State University, will be the new coordinator and Josh Rouse is the assistant coordinator.

My Free Taxes (myfreetaxes.com) is an online partnership between United Way Worldwide, Goodwill Industries International and the National Disability Institute to provide free federal and state tax preparation and e-filing to taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $66,000 or less. The program uses tax preparation software donated by H&R Block.

The accounting department at Appalachian State University runs a free tax help lab from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from Feb. 4 to April 8 in room 4015 of Peacock Hall. Students, staff and faculty may get assistance in filing their own tax returns there.

The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program is offering free tax preparation for seniors and low-middle income taxpayers at the Lois Harrill Senior Center, 132 Poplar Grove Connector, Boone on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., beginning Feb. 4 through April 7. Call (828) 265-8090 for more information and to make an appointment.

This service is also offered at the Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US Highway 421, Sugar Grove on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., beginning Feb. 10 — April 6. Call (828) 297-5195 to make an appointment.

The Ashe County Public Library, 148 Library Drive, West Jefferson, also offers the Volunteer for Tax Assistance program on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The service runs from Jan. 27– April 7. To make an appointment call (336) 977-5829.

Ashe Services for Aging at the Ashe County Senior Center, 180 Chattyrob Lane, West Jefferson, will offer assistance by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 28 to April 9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The service will be available at the Riverview Community Center, Creston, on Wednesdays, Feb. 12, March 11 and Apr. 8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To make an appointment for either location, call (336) 246-4347.

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