The Dollars Are In The Bank… And For That, I Have You To Thank
Tax time! Wait…. Did I just see you cringe and start to turn the page??!!! Stop! I want to tell you fun and uplifting stories about tax season because that is what I see every year during The River Center’s free tax preparation season.
Last year a single dad in recovery heard about the free tax preparation available at The River Center. He asked if he could get help with tax returns from past years. The answer was yes. He came in very nervous, fearing that he would owe a lot of money in penalties and overdue taxes. He walked away with a return large enough to buy a car. That car has opened up a world of possibilities for him. He is seeing his children regularly now, he has his own place, he has stable work. The tax refund has made all the difference in the world for him and his family.
How about the international students from Franklin Pierce University who came last year to have their taxes done? They too need to complete a tax return due to their work study jobs at FPU. Can you imagine trying to complete tax returns in another country?! When Larry received the request last year he was willing and able to give it a go. He and his volunteers completed returns for 9 students from Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa. This year FPU is bringing more international students to have their taxes done.
Some of the tax returns are more complicated than others. Larry tells me about taking one particular return home to figure out how to lower the amount due. The couple would owe $2500. They insisted they could not claim children. In the end, they could claim one child, not as a dependent, but for earned income credit. They owed $150 instead of $2500. Happy result.
The tax volunteers are real champions. Each year over two dozen volunteers rally under the leadership of Larry Schwartz to make the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program happen at The River Center. A dozen volunteers are trained as preparers, passing three levels of IRS testing to become certified tax preparers. Larry is the quality reviewer, checking each completed return before they are submitted. Another dozen volunteers greet clients as they arrive. Last year the tax program at The River Center completed 730 returns bringing back 1.1 million dollars in refunds to individuals and families in this region. Thank you to all who do this wonderful service!
Let me tell you a little about Larry. He has been heading up the free tax program since 2007 at The River Center. Over that time span, hundreds of individuals have benefitted from having their taxes and literally millions of dollars have come back in tax refunds and credits. Larry loves to figure things out- the tougher the problem the more he likes it. Larry loves helping people get all the money they have coming to them. He tells me, “I get the most joy from helping single moms who are struggling so that they can provide for their children.” I see the smile when he has figured out a particularly tough tax problem. He is a man who genuinely loves doing tax returns. He makes himself available so that The River Center is one of two IRS approved sites in New Hampshire for year-round free tax assistance. Last year Larry was awarded Man of Year by the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. He is well deserving of that honor. Thank you Larry!
There are some fun ways that clients have thanked our tax volunteers. An older lady had her taxes done for her. She received a small refund. She was so pleased. She wondered if she could send the IRS a thank you. Another grateful recipient of the tax program favored the tax volunteers that evening with a spontaneous mini-concert. There are tears of joy. One client was so happy upon hearing that she had a $1500 refund she started running up and down the hall screaming. Fancy donuts appeared for all the volunteers. Larry has had a homemade sub delivered as a thank you. Someone brought him a bouquet of flowers. Another brought champagne. Often he receives thank you notes. This note came recently with a poem: “Hi Larry, The dollars are in the bank. And for that I have you to thank.”
We have one month left before the April 15 deadline for submitting tax returns. This program for low and moderate income households is a resource. If you or someone you know would benefit, please call 924-6800 and set up an appointment.
Before I close I want you to know a couple of things. Yes, The River Center’s buildings are up for sale. Our address will change but our mission is staying the same. When we have our new location determined I will let you know.
I also want you to save the date for our Annual Community Spelling Bee on April 29 at the Peterborough Players. Come and watch, form a team of spellers, sponsor the event.
Fun for all!