Aroostook CA$H Coalition offers free tax preparation
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Aroostook CA$H Coalition is set for another season of free tax preparation services for the people of Aroostook County. These services will be offered in Fort Kent, Presque Isle and Houlton beginning in early February.
Aroostook CA$H stands for Creating Assets, $avings, and Hope. It is a partnership of 13 partners and supporters working together to help empower individuals and families to achieve long-term financial stability. The program is coordinated by United Way of Aroostook and is once again being sponsored by The County Federal Credit Union.
This is the eighth year Aroostook CA$H and its partners have offered the free tax preparation program to Aroostook County citizens. Taxes will be prepared free of charge for low- to middle-income households earning less than $56,000, saving clients upwards of $200 in professional preparation costs.
Last year the program helped just over 1,000 clients and helped to realize $1.1 million in returns and refunds to The County.
In addition to free tax preparation, Aroostook CA$H can offer clients the opportunity to meet one-on-one with volunteer opportunity guides/cash coaches to learn about programs and resources aimed at reducing the client’s debt and increasing their savings. This piece of the program was established by New Ventures Maine and CA$H Maine to educate individuals and families about available classes and local resources which help them to become financially stable and independent. The opportunity guides will come from the County Federal Credit Union’s pool of volunteers.
“The CFCU staff are very enthusiastic about volunteering their time as opportunity guides, assisting those program participants who seek financial literacy education and information about the programs, resources and services available in the Aroostook County area,” aid Dan Bagley, executive vice president of The County Federal Credit Union.
The program utilizes almost 60 volunteers who make this program possible. Site coordinators Sandra Bartley and Timothy McMahon have provided training to ensure all volunteer tax preparers are IRS certified, and volunteer coordinator Athena Hallowell trains schedulers, greeters and opportunity guides. The process ensures clients they are being taken care of in a professional and skilled manner by qualified volunteers.
To set up an appointment or for more information about the program, call the United Way office at 207-764-5197.