DENHAM SPRINGS — George “Joe” Morrison was pleasantly surprised to learn he would be receiving a tax refund this year.
Morrison said he’s always paid taxes in past years but has fallen on hard times and could definitely use the extra money.
“I didn’t have the money to get it (taxes) done, so I came here,” Morrison said as he sat with volunteer Ron Rindone on Thursday at the Denham Springs Library during the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, a free income tax preparation service by IRS-trained volunteers for low- to moderate-income individuals and families.
“It’s convenient, free and I need it done,” Morrison said.
Co-sponsored by Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the IRS, the program is by appointment only and is held at the Denham Springs-Walker, Main and Albany-Springfield branches of the Livingston Parish Library, said Denham Springs-Walker Branch Manager Felecia West.
Volunteers, who began preparing 2014 tax returns for people on Jan. 29, have served more than 130 people at the Denham Springs location, Rindone said.
Rindone has served more than 30 people, he said.
“I love it,” Rindone said.
“Here’s a perfect example,” he said as he looked at Morrison. “The guy’s getting it done free because he doesn’t have the money to have someone else do it.”
Rindone said certified public accountants and agencies charge more than $100 to complete simple tax returns.
After reviewing her tax documents, volunteer Carolyn Forbes turned away one Livingston woman who had a more complicated return than the simple returns volunteers are allowed to process.
Forbes, who has been preparing tax returns for years, said, “It’s just a great feeling helping the elderly and low-income because we’re the best. … Sometimes it can be daunting for those who haven’t prepared taxes before.”
Kim Lalumia was back Thursday to have her returns processed. Lalumia, who had volunteers prepare her 2013 tax returns at the library last year, said she returned to “take advantage of the no-cost charge for it because my income is very limited and it was relatively convenient.”
“The only disadvantage is that it takes a little longer than other places I’ve been,” she said.
Forbes said appointments are scheduled for an hour and most returns are completed before the allotted time ends.
Lalumia, who stopped at the library while running errands, said she would recommend the free service to others.
“I have confidence in their ability and I believe the people who do it are volunteers, so I find it very kind of them to offer their services,” Lalumia said.
The VITA program started at the Livingston Parish Library five years ago after tax preparers noticed a need for the service in the area.
Before VITA, the AARP provided the service to senior citizens in the area, West said.
“It’s been successful ever since we started,” West said.
Three branches of the Livingston Parish Library host the free tax preparation services for participants with an income limit of $60,000 for 2014. The Denham Springs-Walker Branch hosts sessions from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the Albany-Springfield and Livingston branches both host sessions from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
While most appointments are already booked, those interested can call their preferred library branch to schedule an appointment. Those attending appointments must bring tax documents such as W-2s, 1099s and information for deductions and credits, along with a copy of last year’s tax return and a Social Security card for themselves, spouses and dependents, Forbes said. They may also bring proof of a bank account for direct deposit, she said.
To learn about more programs offered at the Livingston Parish Library, visit mylpl.info.