Published January 21, 2017
TAHLEQUAH—The Cherokee Nation is now taking appointments to help eligible families fill out 2016 federal and state income taxes for free.
Last year the tribe’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program helped more than 1,800 taxpayers by saving preparation fees of up to $400 that are normally charged for those services.
To qualify for VITA, which is open to both Native and non-Native families, an individual or household must not make more than $54,000 in annual income.
The tribe offers assistance filling out tax forms in 13 locations throughout northeast Oklahoma.
“Providing this program to our citizens means we are not only able to ensure the federal and state paperwork is done timely and correctly, but also eliminate the burdensome fees of third-party tax preparation for hundreds of Cherokee Nation citizens,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr.
The service starts Feb. 1 and runs through April 13. Walk-ins are accepted at the Tahlequah and Westville sites. All others are by appointment only at 918-453-5536.
This year, 17 certified volunteers from Cherokee Nation’s commerce department and Northeastern State University will be preparing returns using the basic 1040 form. All federal and state returns will be e-filed through VITA at no charge.
To use the service, families must provide a photo ID, Social Security card and birth date for each person listed on the return, individual taxpayer identification numbers, W-2s, 1099s, a copy of the previous year’s tax return, documentation of deductions and bank account information for direct deposit of any refund. Additional documents may be required, depending on the return.
The Affordable Care Act mandates taxpayers to have had health insurance last year or a penalty could apply.
Volunteers will be available for assistance in Tahlequah, Pryor, Westville, Stilwell, Sallisaw, Catoosa, Claremore, Jay, Salina, Muskogee, Vinita, Ochelata and Nowata.
To find a VITA site anywhere in the United States, call 800-906-9887. The tribe’s Commerce department also recommends that individuals or families with less than $64,000 income prepare their own federal and state taxes online athttp://www.myfreetaxes.com.