Free tax preparation in Tahoe region | SierraSun.com

Free tax preparation in Tahoe region

Special to the Sun

Courtesy Family Resource CentersFrank Schneller, left, and Alex Graham will help prepare 2011 tax returns free of charge as a community service at Truckee and Kings Beach Family Resources Centers.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Residents will soon receive 2011 earnings statements. The tax deadline, April 17, 2012, looms large for many, especially those on a tight budget who need help preparing their taxes.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) are teaming up again this year in the Tahoe region with tax aide volunteers to offer free tax preparation services to low and middle income individuals, as well as senior citizens. Alex Graham and Frank Schneller are local volunteer tax aides who will prepare tax returns for area residents at the Family Resource Centers (FRC) in Truckee and Kings Beach.

Graham, who has a master of arts in taxation, has volunteered through the AARP program for 10 years. Schneller, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), has been volunteering for the past four years.

Each year the pair takes an IRS-sponsored class and exam to ensure they are up to date on the latest tax code changes. When asked why they devote so many volunteer hours to this program, they said they felt the need to serve their community and a great sense of satisfaction in addressing a need. Graham said, and#8220;There is a real need in the community for education regarding taxes.and#8221; Schneller said he felt happy to use his skills to help those in financial need get their full tax refund.

The pair of volunteers has teamed with the FRCs because they feel the Centers have their finger and#8220;on the pulse of the communityand#8221; and have access to the clientele they hope to serve and#8212; those with low to middle incomes and senior citizens. Schneller said locals associate FRCs with quality and will feel comfortable getting their taxes prepared in an environment in which they already get top-notch services.

In recognition for their years of service on behalf of local families, the volunteers were recently honored by the Family Resource Center of Truckee with the Local Champion award at the organizationand#8217;s Dia de Los Muertos event on Nov. 4, 2011.

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Tax preparation services are available to residents of all income levels if they are not complex or business returns. Taxes are filed electronically, ensuring the refund is available within two weeks. Graham and Schneller will file both federal and state returns. Last year the tax aides helped eligible local families receive $79,974 in the Earned Income Credit.

Family advocates at the FRCs are able to provide translation services as well as connect locals to various community resources. While the program is free of charge, donations are gladly accepted.

The program is sponsored by AARP and open to all ages. The dates of the free service in Truckee are Feb. 10, 18, 24; March 2, 9, 17, 23, 31 and April 6, 13. Call 530-587-2513 to schedule an appointment at the FRC in Truckee.

Call the FRC in Kings Beach at 530-546-0952 to schedule an appointment on the North Shore.

Bring the following items

1. A copy of last yearand#8217;s tax return

2. All W-2 forms from each employer

3. All 1099and#8217;s (from Social Security, banks, pension and annuity income)

4. Unemployment compensation statements

5. If property owner, parcel number for your property

6. Social Security or ITIN cards for all family members

7. Official birth certificates for all family members who are applying for ITINand#8217;s

8. Spouse to sign tax return

9. Check book if the client wants direct deposit of refund