Tax Preparation Volunteers- Tax, energy assistance programs being promoted to help those in need

Written by Bruce Lindner. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on January 18, 2016 with No Comments

Are you available to volunteer in the New Year? The Northwest Indiana Asset Building Coalition is seeking volunteers to help moderate- to low-income residents file their federal and state income taxes during the 2017 tax season.

The coalition, in partnership with the IRS, provides a free tax preparation program called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program or VITA for short. The service is available to qualifying individuals with household incomes of less than $54,000.

During the 2016 tax season, the Asset Building Coalition and its 101 volunteers prepared more than 2,700 federal tax returns.

“As one of 15 program partners in the region, we’re providing a crucial financial stability program to the elderly and young families that might not be able to make ends meet without it,” said Kim Olesker, president and CEO of The United Way of Porter County, in a release.

The program heavily relies on community volunteers from mid-January through the April 18 tax filing deadline to schedule appointments, prepare tax forms and providing quality control at a tax preparation site.

Services are available at a variety of locations throughout Lake, Porter, Pulaski and Starke counties. Volunteers will receive all training necessary to participate. No experience is necessary to volunteer.

If interested in volunteering or learning more, visit UnitedWayPC.org/VITA.

Maybe tax preparation is not for you, but you want to give back to the community? Visit www.nwivolunteer.org to check out the current volunteer opportunities in the region.

Energy assistance available

As a reminder, we are continuing to schedule appointments for the Energy Assistance Program.

Those needing assistance with their energy bills can call (219) 464-9736, Ext. 1 to schedule an appointment. Our office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and we are closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch.

The program is an income-eligible program that helps qualified participants with their energy bills during the winter season. When participants qualify, the payment is electronically paid to the appropriate energy company.

We appreciate your patience as we will make every effort to return your phone call within two business days. We ask that you only leave one voice message.

Those who have been issued a disconnect notice or need more immediate energy help will be seen if possible as walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis at PCACS.

We ask for your patience as we seek to serve everyone in a timely fashion based on appointment time, need and circumstances.

A checklist of expected needed items and a Landlord Affidavit form are available on the PCACS Web site: www.portercountyacs.org under the “Forms” tab at the bottom of the home page.

RSVP recognition

Congratulations to the United Way Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Northwest Indiana for receiving the Award for Exemplary Volunteer Program from Serve Indiana, the state’s volunteer service agency.

This award was one of eight awards given to state organizations for their service to the community. The awards mark the accomplishments of volunteers and service members.

Also, RSVP volunteers wrapped more than 225 gifts for community organizations after receiving more than 1,400 donations of handmade scarves, hats, blankets and gently used/handmade stuffed animals and books as part of the Crafting for Love event.

The donations went to such agencies as Blue Star Mothers, Hilltop Neighborhood House, Portage Township Food Pantry, Sacred Heart Food Pantry, Sojourner Truth House, We Care From the Heart and Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County.

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About Bruce Lindner

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle.  Bruce Lindner has worked in the not-for-profit world for more than 25 years and has been executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services for five. A native of the Region, he was raised in Portage and he graduated from Valparaiso University. You can call him at 219-464-9736 or e-mail at bhlindner@frontier.com.

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