April 15 is approaching; get your taxes done for free

Tax payers often dread the April 15 deadline but some do not have enough money to hire a professional to prepare their taxes for them. Free help is out there, and yes they are professionals. There are a number of places in the Twin Cities that provide a service to those who are eligible for free tax preparation assistance.

Some tax payers know about free tax preparation assistance but they are not sure if it is legitimate. “I wish that [people] knew that we actually know what we’re doing,” Asli Egal, Somali Outreach Coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Revenue, said. “We’re doing their taxes right because we have the right training and the right qualifications to do their taxes.”

A single person’s income has to be $35,000 or less to be eligible for free tax preparation; for a family, $45,000 or less. To find a nearby location where you can get free tax assistance, go to the Minnesota Department of Revenue Web site, under Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), and enter your ZIP code. Help is available in multiple languages and many locations are handicap accessible.

The Web site also fills you in on what to bring when you go to a VITA site. Egal said it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes to get your taxes done. She also said the lines are not very long, but sometimes she can get up to 30 people.

Egal said nearby locations that offer free tax assistance include Seward Tower East, Liberty Plaza in St. Paul, Skyline Tower in St. Paul, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES) in Minneapolis, and many more. Other organizations that provide free tax assistance are AccountAbility Minnesota and the AARP Foundation.

Casey Merkwan is a student at the University of Minnesota and an intern at the TC Daily Planet.

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