Tax program sees increase in users

By Stephanie Casanova

More area residents used a free program to file their income tax returns this year than last year. The program, sponsored by K-State Research and Extension, provided federal tax returns for 574 taxpayers and state tax returns for 585 taxpayers this season. That’s an 8 percent increase from 528 people who used the service in 2016. The program wrapped up late last week, a few days before the end of the tax season. Jennifer Wilson, extension director, told Riley County commissioners Thursday that the volunteers stayed steadily busy throughout the season.

Fifteen volunteers were trained and prepared taxes for residents, logging more than 500 hours. The volunteers are a mix of area residents and college students.

“Usually, in the past, things have kind of dwindled down to where I tell volunteers by mid-March, ‘I only need a few of you today.’ We really didn’t do that this year,” Wilson said. “I’m still kind of mining through the data to figure
out what the difference was this year.” The program only prepares simple tax returns and is offered to people with a household income of less than $50,000. Tax refunds through the program totaled $802,417 and $68,635 in tax liabilities were paid.

Wilson said the people who use the program are typically those who don’t know if they have the skills to prepare their own returns and are afraid they will mess something up if they try it themselves.

“People are so thankful when they come into the site and are able to utilize that free tax preparation assistance,” Wilson said.

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