Help is here for those prepping taxes

“If line A is more than line C but greater than line D by 20 percent of line Q from Schedule 345A then subtract Line B” is the sort of sentence that can make readers scratch their heads, roll their eyes, toss the calculator and wonder if they will ever manage to get through the annual ritual of filing their federal and state income tax returns.

Fortunately, for those whose incomes meet certain much simpler criteria, help is available through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

A joint effort of Iowa Central Community College and the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, it’s staffed with volunteer accounting students.

Dawn Humburg, who leads the accounting department, said the second-year students are qualified.

“They have to pass the IRS proficiency exams,” she said.

It’s also good experience for them she said.

Jessica Martens, who is the program coordinator for the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, started as an intern herself.

“It lets the students see how much they’ve actually learned,” she said, by the end of the program, “They’ve figured out they do know what they’re doing.”

Getting ready for the program, which has been in existence for seven years, got a little trickier this year. Congressional delays on the “Fiscal Cliff” meant training got delayed too.

“We had to train on 2011 instead,” she said, “Then at the very last, we had to retrain for the changes.”

They took it in stride.

“It could have been a lot worse.” she said.

One of the goals of the program is to make sure the clients are getting the refunds they are due, she said, this in turn helps the community since most people go and spend their refunds.

It adds up.

“During the last seven years we’ve brought over $2 million in refunds back to the area,” Martens said.

Eligibility for the program is based on income. For a single filer with no dependents or someone married filing separately, the limit is $20,000. For all other filing status, the limit is $58,000.

“It mirrors the Earned Income Credit,” she said.

She said they expect to serve 300 to 400 clients this year. There are two locations – the Fort Dodge Public Library and Room 402 in the Applied Science Building at Iowa Central Community College.

Hours at the library are from noon to 5 p.m Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. They accept walk-ins, although having an appointment is preferred.

Hours at the campus location are 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. An appointment is needed there.

Clients need to bring photo identification and Social Security card, all of their W-2 forms and 1099 forms, a copy of the previous year’s return, receipts for medical expenses, property taxes, mortgage receipts and any other relevant documents.

Once completed, the returns are filed electronically.

Appointments can be scheduled at 573-3170 or by email at