Every year the local American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) personnel train tax preparers to offer free tax assistance and preparation for taxpayers with low and middle income. You do not need to be a member of AARP or a retiree to use this service.
The Pleasant Hill Community House is used for this preparation in Pleasant Hill. Tax preparers at this site are John Blankenship, Joe Gittings, Bill Carrell, Bob Waidmann, Ginny Nixon, all of Pleasant Hill, and Mike Rodts of Fairfield Glade. They took a week-long class in January followed by an annual certification test. These people are volunteers and do not receive any payment for their services. The new people are coached by the more experienced.
The tax service will end on April 12. They will assist on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m. for those who make an appointment by calling Corey Boniface at 277-3096. Corey takes reservations, does initial taxpayer interviews, manages workflow, and helps with other administrative matters. The Pleasant Hill Community Church, UCC has provided DSL service in the Community House to aid in the use of on-line tax filing.
Software is provided by the IRS and AARP at no cost. They connect by the internet with a large server computer in Atlanta. All taxpayer data resides on that big computer. For John Blankenship, this is his 16th tax season. He is responsible for setting up the Pleasant Hill accounts and managing the taxpayer files on the server. Each taxpayer return is reviewed by him. Most of the time, his job is to review the returns, print a paper copy for the taxpayer, and prepare the return for e-filing. Each evening, he submits the e-files for that day’s work. The next day, he gets a confirmation that the return has been accepted. Occasionally a return will be rejected, and they have to correct and resubmit that return.
There are three computer stations for preparers, and one computer station for a quality reviewer. Taxpayers should expect to spend about one hour, but some may take longer. Last year the tax preparers completed 118 federal returns in Pleasant Hill. Three of the tax preparers, not always the same three, go to Sparta on Tuesdays to work with Bob Garwood from Fairfield Glade, who is local coordinator for that site. They have been doing this for six or seven years at the White County Senior Center in Sparta and fill approximately the same number of returns at Sparta as at Pleasant Hill.
Blankenship relates the following “good news” story, “In the AARP Tax Aide program, we represent the taxpayer, not the IRS, and do what we can to help the taxpayer. I remember a taxpayer several years ago whose filing status was ‘Married: Filing Separate.’ This filing status carries a high tax rate, much higher than ‘Single’ status. I asked him some questions, which, we don’t normally ask because they are none of our business. I learned that he had undergone cancer treatment during the tax year. His wife, who lived out of state, had visited with him for several weeks to help him while recovering from treatment. She had then returned to her own home. Her income was below the filing limit, and she was not required to file a return. In the tax software there is an obscure question ‘Did your spouse live with you at any time during the last 6 months of the year?’ Answering yes to that question caused his tax to go even higher. I asked the taxpayer if his wife might be willing to file a joint return. He asked, and she agreed. This change in filing status saved the taxpayer $2,500.”
Parkinson’s therapies help patients live big and loud
Parkinson’s disease has famously affected the lives of celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. But whether a person with Parkinson’s is world famous or a next-door neighbor, new therapies are offering hope for a better quality of life.
Local art event planned at CATS
Plans are being made for an event sponsored by the CATS Gallery at the Palace Theatre, 72 South Main St., Crossville, Tuesday, Aug. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be refreshments, music and an opportunity to view a performance painting by artist Chuck Jensen. A live auction of donated art pieces will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the opportunity to "Be a Cool Cat — Buy Local Art." There is free admission, but it is advisable to get a free ticket at the CATS Gallery in the middle section of the Crossville Mall, at the Palace Theatre or from any participating member of CATS. During the event, original art items including paintings, photographs, and jewelry will be offered for auction, such as this expressive waterfall painting by Carole Cullen.
- Marriage licenses (Published July 23, 2014)
Heritage demonstrators welcome
Most of Americans today never stop to think how different our lives would have been several hundred years ago. How many times a day do we wash our hands, and do we ever realize when we take those hot showers and lather up, the long all-day process our ancestors had to go through just to make a bar of soap? Not to mention packing water to the house and heating it up over a wood fire just to have a bath and wash clothes. Times are changing faster than ever.
Mathes restores a bit of Pleasant Hill's history
Miss Alice Adshead, RN, created a “wilderness trail” through the woods just down the hill from Uplands Sanatorium, the first hospital in Cumberland County once located on Main St. in Pleasant Hill.
Prune flowering shrubs: now or wait until February?
Experts say, “Don’t prune woody-stemmed plants (shrubs, trees and some types of vines) after mid-August.” Do pay close attention to that advice. The purpose of this late-season pruning prohibition is to keep plants healthy.
Burgess Falls offers a big payoff for a short hike
At Burgess Falls, you can be out of your car and taking in the breathtaking view of the Falling Water River as it falls 136 feet in the third and final drop of the river with just a short walk through the woods.
But even though the state park is close to civilization, this natural wonder retains its wild and scenic reputation.
Colonial Dames honors members with luncheon
The John McKnitt Chapter Colonial Dames 17th Century held its May meeting at the home of Joyce Ernst. Those present were Sherry Sneed, Jessie Watts, Dot Brodhag, Kandy B. Smith, Lynn Constan, Donna Hamilton, Margaret Markum, Lana Davis, Sara Tripiciano, Jane Tavernier, Joyce Ernst, Kathy Wilson, Charlotte Reynolds, and Cheryl Chrobot. President Lana Davis welcomed the ladies and followed with the opening ritual.
Art Guild announces winners from Judged and Juried Show
On June 6, the Art Guild at Fairfield Glade held a reception to announce the winners of the Judged and Juried Fine Arts Show. The pieces were judged by Marcia Goldenstein of Knoxville. Stonehaus Winery provided refreshments for the occasion.
Celtic Circle donates to ACPL
Celtic Circle, a local group of Americans celebrating their Celtic heritage, recently donated a subscription for Scotland Magazine to the Art Circle Public Library and to the Homestead Elementary School library. Pictured, left to right, are Barbara Nugent, originally from Yorkshire, England; Susie Randleman, ACPL director; and Catherine Stewart Munkelwitz from Inverness, Scotland. Celtic Circle will host a program titled "Celtic Sampler" at ACPL on Friday, Aug. 1 beginning at noon. Entertainment includes great Highland bagpipe, bodhran, harp, Irish step dancing, both Scottish and Irish songs, Gaelic spoken and sung, tartan weaving and Celtic Children's Corner with crafts.
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