Tax preparers

Tax preparers work with Kodiak residents to file taxes, at Kodiak College on March 14. (Nicole Klauss photo)

Kodiak residents who haven’t filed their taxes can take advantage of free help today.

The Alaska Business Development Center sent a team of volunteers from its Volunteer Tax and Loan program to Kodiak to prepare taxes for individuals and offer tax education.

The program has offered its services to rural villages on Kodiak Island since 1996, but this is the first time a team has stopped in the city of Kodiak.

“We go to smaller places where they don’t have tax options,” team supervisor Bruce Merrell said.

Before arriving in Kodiak, they helped residents in Old Harbor and Akhiok.

The program is open to any individual and some small businesses, including commercial fishing operations.

“We specialize in doing commercial fishing incomes for both captains and crew,” Merrell said. “The program got started primarily because of that.”

In 2012, the program visited 71 Alaska communities and generated over $5.2 million in tax refunds.

This year, 80 volunteers are traveling to over 80 Alaska villages. To date, program volunteers have visited 60 villages.

Many of the volunteers are from students or teachers from colleges in the Lower 48.

“It looks good on their resumes and they’re excited about the experience to see Bush Alaska,” Merrell said.

The three-person team visiting Kodiak includes two people from the University of Idaho.

“It’s good work experience,” said tax preparer Brian Church, a volunteer from the university.

The team also provides educational information to help people understand the tax system, learn who is considered a dependent and understand other filing questions.

The team will be at the Kodiak College from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. No appointment is necessary, but service is provided first-come, first-served. People should bring their W-2 forms and income documents with them.

People will typically receive a direct deposit refund in two to three weeks if they have a refund coming, Merrell said.

People who can’t make it to the college this weekend can use the program’s mail-in option at www.abdc.org. For more information, contact the Alaska Business Development Center at 907-562-0335.

Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at nklauss@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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