Some Free Tax Prep Programs See Busy Time, Others See Lack of Volunteers

As W-2 forms start arriving in the mail, community organizations are prepping to assist clients to file their taxes.

Pic0 2But Covid has made things difficult for some community organizations to even have a free tax prep program.

“We are slammed right now,” said Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency (NMCAA) tax program manager Meg Havenga. “This is the busiest time of the tax season.”

Havenga says they’re ready to help people file their taxes this year.

“We offer 100% free tax preparation,” she said. “It is for low and moderate income households so, we generally cap that income at $77,000 or less. However, we serve all veterans and seniors.”

NMCAA has 25 volunteers across 10 counties helping to file taxes.

“It can be tough to recruit volunteers, especially with the limitations of Covid,” said Havenga.

That’s the issue the Kalkaska County Commission on Aging ran into with their own free tax prep program.

“We begged for volunteers for a long time, and those volunteers then get trained before they help with the program,” said Kalkaska County Commission on Aging Community Resource Specialist Lisa Anderson. “We just did not get any volunteers this year.”

Anderson estimates around 150 seniors utilized their tax program in the past each year, and it will be severely missed this year.

“One of the questions that I got that I don’t normally get is well, ‘Do you know how much it costs to have my taxes prepared through a place like H&R Block?’,” said Anderson. “I called H&R Block and it’s not a huge amount of money, but for a senior living on a fixed income, it feels like a huge amount of money.”

They’re referring clients to NMCAA’s free tax program. To find out more about the program, you can click here.