Cherokee Nation to again offer VITA preparation service

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/14/2020 04:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cora Lathrop, Cherokee Nation mortgage loan officer and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance coordinator, helps Eric and Christy Young, of Tahlequah, file their taxes as part of the tribe’s free VITA program. ARCHIVE
TAHLEQUAH – Beginning Feb. 3, income-eligible households can schedule appointments with the Cherokee Nation to prepare and file state and federal income taxes at no cost.

In partnership with the IRS, the tribe’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program has offered tax preparation services to eligible families for more than 40 years. In 2019, 1,732 families saved an average of $400 in tax service fees, CN officials said.

“Cherokee Nation’s longstanding partnership with the IRS helps low-to-moderate-income families keep the money they’ve earned and take advantage of tax credits they may be due, bringing additional money back into the household,” Shay Smith, CN Small Business Assistance Center director, said.

VITA is operated by the tribe’s Commerce Services and open to Native and non-Native families with annual household incomes that do not exceed $56,000. In addition to free filing, the program gives taxpayers an opportunity to hold one-on-one discussions concerning their options.

Appointments can be scheduled at 13 tax prep sites in Tahlequah, Pryor, Westville, Stilwell, Sallisaw, Catoosa, Claremore, Jay, Salina, Muskogee, Vinita, Ochelata and Nowata. Walk-ins will be accepted at the Tahlequah and Westville sites.

Taxpayers must provide a photo IDs; Social Security cards and dates of birth 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. Preparers may request additional documents.

Commerce Services officials also suggests individuals or families with less than $66,000 in income visit www.myfreetaxes.com to prepare their own federal and state taxes at no cost to the taxpayer.

Also, for families making less than $55,952 in 2019, millions of Earned Income Tax Credit dollars are waiting to be claimed, Commerce officials said. The federal EITC or earned income credit is a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples, particularly those with children. The amount of EITC benefit depends on a recipient’s income and number of children.

The VITA service runs until April 15. For information or to make an appointment, call 918-453-5536.

Click here to download the VITA locations and schedule.

Each site will be open at certain times and on certain days of the week:

• Tahlequah – open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Cherokee Nation Tsa-La-Gi Community Room, 17695 S. Muskogee Ave. Call 918-453-5536. Walk-ins accepted.

• Pryor – open Mondays from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Cherokee Nation Career Services, 2945 Highway 69A. Call 918-453-5536.

• Westville – open Feb. 18, March 10 and March 24 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Westville Public Library, 116 N. Williams. Walk-ins only.

• Stilwell – open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at CN Career Services, 219 W. Oak St. Call 918-453-5536.

• Sallisaw – open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, 2260 W. Cherokee. Call 918-774-0770, ext. 1 or 2.

• Catoosa – open Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, 310 Chief Stand Watie. Call 918-342-6814.

• Claremore – open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, 23205 S. Highway 66. Call 918-342-6807 or 918-342-6814.

• Jay – open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, 1300 W. Cherokee. Call 918-253-4078.

• Salina – open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. except for Feb. 18, March 10 and March 24 at Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Site, 904 Owen Walters Blvd. Call 918-207-3939.

• Muskogee – open every Tuesday in Feb, and March 10 and March 17 from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Three Rivers Health Clinic, 1001 S. 41st St. East. Call 918-453-5536.

• Vinita – open Feb. 5, Feb. 26, March 11 and March 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Vinita Health Center, 27371 S. 4410 Road. Call 918-342-6807.

• Ochelata – open Feb. 12, March 4 and April 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cooweescoowee Health Clinic, 39500 W. 2900 Road. Call 918-342-6807.

• Nowata – open Feb. 19, March 18 and April 8 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Will Rogers Health Clinic, 1020 Lenape Drive. Call 918-342-6807.

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