This tax season, local nonprofit NeighborWorks Umpqua, a group aimed at strengthening community development, will be helping the people of Coos and Douglas counties file their taxes.
NeighborWorks Umpqua has been working with folks on Oregon’s South Coast for the past 25 years, but this is the first year they will be offering free assistance with tax filings.
NeighborWorks Umpqua Communication Specialist Nick Noyes said, “We were doing some research on different ways we can impact and build on our mission, and we found that there is an inherent need to help residents better prepare their taxes.”
To serve the community’s tax filing needs, NeighborWorks Umpqua is asking for help of volunteers. Those who wish to volunteer need no prior income tax knowledge, just a willingness to donate 80 hours of their time - 40 of which will be training and another 40 will be filing taxes.
“We’re just looking for anyone who’s interested in giving back to their community through providing tax guidance,” Noyes said.
Volunteers will learn how to itemize and identify deduction opportunities to provide the best possible service to community members.
“They’re going to learn more than enough to not only probably do their own taxes, but also be able to help other people with their taxes. Hopefully being able to point out those deductions and credits that they might miss if they were preparing their taxes on their own,” Noyes said.
NeighborWorks Umpqua hopes to provide around 500 members of the Roseburg and Coos Bay communities with free tax advice this season.
According to 2013 statistics, Oregon’s participation in the Earned Income Tax Credit program was 74 percent. The national average for the EITC program is 80 percent. NeighborWorks Umpqua noticed this, and hopes to increase that number by helping individuals file their taxes and participate in the EITC along with other tax credits that could be missed.
“Oregon as a state is below the national average in participation of the EITC program, and we’re leaving about 130 million dollars on the table because we aren’t fully participating,” Noyes said.
Tax preparation sites will open Feb. 5, 2018, and go through April 14, 2018. Those interested in volunteering should contact Katelyn Dzialowy, volunteer coordinator with NeighborWorks Umpqua at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-673-4909.