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RSVP offers free income tax preparation assistance

By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
For 20 years, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has been helping people in Escambia County with income tax preparation.
It started in 1984 when RSVP partnered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to offer free tax help to low-income people through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Then, nine years ago, RSVP received a grant from the IRS to offer free Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).
Since January of this year, RSVP has assisted more than 500 tax payers in Escambia County.
RSVP begins in October recruiting volunteers to help seniors with income tax preparation.
To participate, volunteers must complete training modules, an e-file course and pass the required TCE test, Beasley said.
In addition to the volunteers -- this year there are 12 working with the program -- TCE is administered with the help of an administrator, clerical support, a volunteer coordinator and a publicity person.
The program is successful because the IRS and RSVP share three goals -- promoting tax understanding and awareness, preparing accurate tax returns at no cost and encouraging personal asset building through tax incentives.
By participating in this program, RSVP brings dollars and other resources into the community, provides volunteers with valuable personal skills and financial insights and satisfies community outreach and education goals, Beasley said.
RSVP is sponsored locally by the Escambia County Commission and receives federal funds.
The program partners with 44 organizations throughout the county to provide volunteers. Volunteers provide tutoring services at Flomaton Elementary School and Head Start, and they also work with Covenant Hospice, hospitals, nursing homes, the All Kids program, the American Heart Association and many others.
RSVP is offering income tax preparation assistance at four locations, every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- Brewton Courthouse Annex, Brewton Public Library, East Brewton City Hall and Atmore Satellite Courthouse. On Thursday, April 15, assistance will be available at the Brewton Post Office, Brewton Courthouse Annex and Atmore Satellite Courthouse from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.