Tax-time options save money

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
Procrastinators of Escambia County take heart; there is still time to find someone to do your taxes.
With the April 15 deadline quickly approaching, there are several different routes one can take to get his or her taxes in on time.
Jackie Darby, franchise owner of H&R Block in Atmore, said things had not reached a critical level, yet.
"There are a lot of people that typically wait until April to file their taxes," Darby said. "We always know it's coming … we prepare for it."
For many citizens looking for an inexpensive option to have their taxes done, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has provided a way. Elderly citizens and those making less than $36,000 a year can have their taxes done for free at the Poarch Creek Reservation.
Felecia Ardis Colbert, Poarch Creek Indian Economic Development Director, outlined the program.
"It's open to anyone by appointment," Colbert said. "There are two programs we offer. One is Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) for low-income families. The other is Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) for ages 60 and older. We've been doing this for approximately 17 years. This is done in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We also do electronic filing."
Escambia and Baldwin Counties also offer a similar program to the one at Poarch. Escambia County RSVP and Baldwin County RSVP will offer tax assistance to the elderly through the TCE program until the tax deadline. Amy Cooley is the contact in Escambia County. She can be reached at 368-8626 in Atmore and 867-0255 in Brewton. Faye Robinson is the Director of Baldwin County RSVP. She can be reached at 937-6764.
Darby also had advice for those brave souls attempting to do taxes themselves.
"If they do it themselves, they need to be sure to get all their deductions together," Darby said. "Medical expenses, interest on property, and even damage from Hurricane Ivan. If they have questions they need to be sure to see a professional for assistance."
H&R Block also offers a program to help people get more of their money back.
"We offer a double-check challenge," Darby said. "If someone feels that they should've gotten more back on their refund, we will check to see if we could've gotten them more back. We don't offer any special deals or discounts."
Colbert outlined how to get in touch with the Economic Development Program to set up an appointment to get taxes done.
"We are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. by appointment only," Colbert said. "You can call 251-368-9136 ext. 2289 to get in touch with us. We're close to being booked, but we still have a few spots left."

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