Free tax help available

CHAMPAIGN — A non-profit is expanding its effort to help people in need. Salt & Light started a free tax help program last year. Now it’s growing, so even more people can use it. They helped about 150 people in 2016. and want that number to be closer to 250 in 2017. Organizers say some people could spend half their refund check getting their taxes prepared, so they want to make sure those families keep as much as they can.
If you’ve heard of Salt & Light, it may be because of their thrift store and food co-op. Both help people in the community get more bang for their buck.
“Good financial literacy is really important,” said Lisa Shelta, who is an associate director at Salt & Light. “The better financial education our families have, the better choices they can make on their own behalf.”
A free tax help program aims to do the same. Volunteers like Russell Curtis help people make sense of all the paperwork.
“I thought it would be a great way to volunteer and help the community,” said Curtis. “Taxes can be very intimidating for people and in a situation like this, where it is a free service, people feel like they can come in and they’re not worried about how much money they’re spending right away, so it encourages people to come out.”
Last time around, Shelta says they weren’t able to help everyone.
“There was a huge need in this community for these services,” said Shelta.
Now they have more volunteers to help, but people still need to make an appointment.
“Tuesday’s and Fridays from 3pm-7pm and Saturday mornings from 9am-11am is when we have appointments available, but we’re also doing what the IRS calls Virtual VITA this year, which is a drop off service.”
People can drop off their information, do a quick interview, then come back later to sign off on prepared paperwork.
“We’re hoping to serve a lot more people this year, between the combination of more appointment times and the possibility of dropping it off without an appointment,” said Shelta.
It’s just one more way they want to help others.
Seniors, people with disabilities, people who make less than $30,000 a year or families who make less than $54,000 a year could all qualify. To find out more information, you can call Salt & Light at 217-355-5654.
Here is a list of other options for free tax services. 
Stevick Senior Center
(AARP Tax Aide TCE Site)
(217) 359-6500
United Way of Danville Area
(217) 443-8559
Decatur Macon County
Senior Center (AARP)
(217) 429-1239

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