Volunteers reach out to individuals and families
By Cari Hachmann/ The Portland Observer
Kaysen Kerrick was sitting in a third floor office at Lloyd Center last week waiting to get her tax refund filed.
Last year the North Portland resident opted out of Jackson Hewitt’s tax preparation services for free tax services provided by CASH Oregon, the AARP Tax-Aide program and the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
This year she and her boyfriend waited more than two hours outside of CASH Oregon’s Lloyd Center tax site for a meeting with one of the volunteers.
The non-profit group gears their help toward low-income individuals and families. Open through April 15 at multiple sites across the state, most CASH Oregon sites are walk-in, on a first-come-first-serve basis, but some require appointments.
Daniel Mills, a southwest Portland resident who works in construction, said last year he used H&R Block’s web-based tax preparation program, but this year his tax situation was more complicated. “I thought it would be easier to ask a professional and get help rather than research it on my own,” he said.
In 2012, CASH Oregon helped 55,320 file tax returns statewide and for individuals with an average adjusted gross income of $23,800. The average refund was nearly $1,500.
“It’s been very very busy,” said Camille McDaniel, program manager of the Lloyd Center site.
Rob Justus, executive director of CASH Oregon, said the non-profit specializes in tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit and other family tax credits, such as the Child and Dependent Care Credit and the Child Tax Credits.
Justus said the free services have been offered at the Lloyd Center since 2005, but fears that grants received from the city and county to keep the services running next year are in danger due to the city’s looming budget cuts.
CASH Oregon lists 36 sites in Multnomah County alone, some providing help in Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Korean, French and German.
People are asked to bring the following documents when they arrive at the tax help sites: Photo identification, Social Security cards or ITIN letters/cards for yourself and every person you claim on your return, documentation of all your income with W-2 and 1099 forms, your bank routing and account numbers for fast direct deposits of your refund; and last year’s tax return.