Free tax preparation service offered

Pine Bluff and Jefferson County residents will be able to take advantage of a free service to get their income taxes prepared, thanks to a program officially launched Monday.

The Rev. Jesse Turner, coordinator of Weed and Seed was joined by District 11 State Rep. Efrem Elliott, (D-Altheimer) in announcing the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) initiative at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

“This is something to help our low- to moderate-income residents,” Turner said. “There are huge amounts of dollars that are left on the table and slip through the cracks and we’re trying to tell people about that.”

Turner was referring to the Earned Income Tax Credit, which could result in less taxes paid, and more money back for people who qualify.

“Programs like this are so important to our community,” Elliott said. “In challenging economic times like this, this is one way to provide help for our low to moderate income citizens.”

Elliott said that the tax preparers are all volunteers and described their work as a “noble thing.”

“I’m honored that we have a VITA site that will help whoever wants to take advantage of it,” Elliott said.

Turner said people can contact VITA sites at Weed and Seed at 2315 S. Olive St., or Arkansas Community Organization at 121 Main St., to make an appointment to get their taxes done.

“It’s all based on appointments and the availability of volunteers,” Turner said. “We file everything electronically so people will get their refunds in 10 to 14 days, and it’s free.”

Turner said residents can take advantage of Super Saturday, Jan. 28, and get their taxes done at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Service Center on a first-come, first-served basis from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.