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This week’s edition!

Tax preparation goes virtual

From City of Lewiston

LEWISTON – The Lewiston Auburn Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CA$H) Coalition, an annual tax season go-to within the L-A area, has gone “virtual.”

IRS tax law certified volunteers have prepared taxes, free of charge, for low-to-moderate income individuals and families since 2004 when the City of Lewiston established the multi-partner coalition.

This tax season, in order to follow CDC public health precau­tions and avoid any shut-down mid-season due to COVID19, members in Maine’s ten coalitions have collaborated to put a virtu­al model in place.

Tony Tenneson, a re­tired professor with vast tax return experience, will facilitate the local effort as Site Coordinator.

“I understand that some residents will be con­cerned about having their tax returns prepared vir­tually. The VITA program has a strict protocol for the virtual tax preparation process,” Tenneson said. “Every VITA volunteer has been trained and certified for the virtual tax return process. The IRS has strict guidelines for ensuring the security and confidentiality of tax filer identification and tax information during the virtual process.

Tenneson said that IRS tax law-certified vol­unteers will contact the individual at various times during the process, from the intake of the tax infor­mation through the review of the completed return with the resident. The pro­cess is every bit as secure as face to face. “I am excit­ed, as this will not limit the number of residents who can be served this season. In the past, the number of taxpayers served was lim­ited to the number of ap­pointments that could be scheduled for face-to-face tax preparation at the Ar­mory.”

Residents in the Lew­iston, Auburn, and sur­rounding areas can choose from two options to have their taxes prepared. A 100% virtual experience, with personal uploading of tax documents and photo ID, will be done through “Get Your Refund” at http://bitly.ws/bJIe. Or residents can use “Scan & Go” at http://bitly.ws/bJIg to request scanning of their documents prior to virtual tax prep.

LA’s Scan & Go Co­ordinator is Chris Adler, a long-time member of LA CA$H.

Services will be of­fered through mid-April.

During both process­es, communication with CA$H representatives will be either by phone or email, and the popular free annual financial check-up will also take place.

Those who use Scan & Go will have a brief in-person scanning ap­pointment at the Lewiston Memorial Armory and can be assured that PPE will be on site, to include Plexi­glass service shields. A mask will be required for entry, and six-feet social distancing will be in effect. No walk-ins will be served.

Face-to-face tax preparation will not occur this tax season, and the well-known “call in for an appointment line” has a message stating that calls to that number will not be returned and to please not leave a message.

LA CA$H will be serving residents only through website access this tax season.

Due to employment possibly being interrupt­ed by COVID19, tax fil­ers will be able to choose whether they want to use either their 2019 or 2020 earned income to calculate the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Additional Child Tax Credit, thanks to a one-time “LOOKBACK” IRS provision

Mainers who are not local residents can find other Maine coalitions at www.cashmaine.org

Instructions

Step-by-step instruc­tions can also be found at http://bitly.ws/bJIh.

“GET YOUR RE­FUND” Virtual Tax Prep

Step 1: Go To: http:// bitly.ws/bJIe

Step 2: Click on “Sign Up.”

Step 3: Follow step-by-step directions to up­load clear photos of tax documents, photo ID(s), & Social Security card(s) (Smart Phone can be used).

Step 4: An LA CA$H representative will call you to review the preparation process, which includes a FREE financial check-up.

Step 5: Your taxes will be virtually completed by an IRS tax law certified volunteer who will keep you informed on the status of your return.

“SCAN & GO” Vir­tual Tax Prep

Step 1: Go To: http:// bitly.ws/bJIg and answer pre-preparation questions.

Step 2: An LA CA$H representative will call to schedule your document scanning appointment at the Lewiston Armory, as well as discuss what you need to bring. The call will also include a FREE finan­cial check-up.

Step 3: Complete IRS intake form at the Ar­mory while scanning is oc­curring.

Step 4: Within a week, your completed re­turn will be reviewed with you by phone or Zoom ses­sion, prior to e-filing.

PLEASE NOTE: CDC guidelines for COVID19 are in place at the Lewiston Armory, 65 Central Avenue, Lewiston. A mask must be worn to enter, and social distanc­ing is required. Scan & Go will only be done by appointment. No walk-ins permitted.

Special Notes

What if You Worked in 2019 But Didn’t Work Much in 2020 Due to COVID?

This tax season, tax filers will be able to choose whether they want to use either their 2019 or 2020 earned income to calculate the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Additional Child Tax Credit, thanks to a one-time “LOOKBACK” IRS provision.

If you think the “LOOKBACK” provi­sion would be beneficial to you, please include your 2019 tax return when using either GET YOUR REFUND or SCAN & GO.

Computer Access

No access to tech­nology to use these virtual options?

The Lewiston Public Library, 200 Lisbon Street, has eight computers with available time periods for “walk-ins” or appoint­ments.

These services are now available Monday through Thursday at 11:00 am, 3:00 pm, and 5:30 pm.

On Fridays, openings are at 11:00 am, and 3:00 pm.

Doors are open from 5 minutes before to 5 min­utes after each session be­gins. A mask is required for entry.

Eight computers are available per time session.

Appointments are still welcomed.

Sessions are 45 min­utes long.

Computers are phys­ically distanced from each other.

For more information or to make an appoint­ment, call (207) 513-3135 or email LPLReference@ lewistonmaine.gov

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