BTC students to help with tax preparation

Blackhawk Technical College’s award winning income tax assistance program is preparing for its 23rd year of service and is taking reservations for tax filers who qualify to use the FREE, fast and confidential tax preparation service.

Students in BTC’s Accounting and Administrative Professional programs once again are ready to serve the community by assisting low income and elderly with their 2016 tax returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that is aimed at those whose taxable income is below $54,000.

Students from the Administrative Professional program under the direction of instructor Patti DeGarmo schedule appointments for those who qualify for the service. Second-year accounting students, supervised by instructor Kay Fratianne, handle the tax returns. Fratianne, a certified public accountant, reviews each completed return prior to a client signing it.

Tax preparation appointments will be available every Tuesday, starting February 7, 2017 and continuing until April 4, 2117.  There will be no appointments on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 due to spring break.  Appointment times are from 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Those interested in taking advantage of the program are asked to call (608) 743-4577 to schedule an appointment.

Last year, the Internal Revenue Service commended the BTC program for an error rejection rate of below one percent, one of the lowest in the St. Paul, Minn., territory. The program also has been cited for 20+ years of service to the public.

The student preparers are trained in tax preparation and use electronic tax filing software to process tax return information to the IRS. Services are limited to common filing requirements and not all tax situations qualify.

Returns ineligible for preparation are those married and filing separately, head of household for married taxpayers, Schedule E (rental property), Schedule F (Farming) and Schedule C (self-employed).

Those seeking the service will need to bring proof of identification (Picture ID), a Social Security card for you, spouse and dependents, and birth dates for you, your spouse, and dependents on the tax return.  Participants also will need wage and earning statements (i.e. W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc) from all employers, interest and dividend statements from banks (Form 1099), a copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available, and proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit, such as a blank check.

“This helps the elderly with their tax returns, which is important considering all the tax law changes that have occurred,’’ Fratianne said. “It also helps the low income participants who don’t have the money to have a return prepared by a CPA receive all the benefits they deserve from the tax laws.’’

Fratianne noted it is not just the tax filer who benefits. “It gives the students real work experience and the chance to work with the public,’’ she said. “I think it gives them a good feeling to be able to help the community. It’s an absolutely wonderful program.’’