Volunteer Tax Help Starts; To End April 15

Tax-Aide, the volunteer program sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons and the Internal Revenue Service, will hold its first round of tax-counseling workshops Monday at several Spokane locations.

Last year, 8,600 local residents took advantage of the assistance, which Tax-Aide has provided for 30 years. The service is free.

The volunteer counselors receive 32 hours of training, additional home study, and must pass a final exam in order to participate in the program. This year, 90 counselors will be available at one of 32 sites.

Monday hours and locations are South Side Senior Center, 2727 S. Mt. Vernon, noon to 4 p.m.; North Spokane Library, 44 E. Hawthorne, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; U.S. Courthouse, 920 W. Riverside, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Franklin Park Mall, 5628 N. Division, noon to 4 p.m.

Future dates and times can be obtained by calling 1-509-353-0529.

Tax-Aide will be available up to the April 15th filing deadline.

Monday, by the way, was declared Tax-Aide Day by Washington Gov. Gary Locke.

Tax guides make for heavy reading

There are several options most people can choose to deal with a vexing question or dilemma related to filing your tax returns.

One is to consult an accountant.

Another is to take the matter up with the Internal Revenue Service.

A third remedy might be to consult one of the many good, albeit heavy-duty, do-it-yourself tax guides that come out each year in advance of the tax season.

If this is your preference, then here are just some of the candidates you’ll be able to find at an area bookstore:

“H & R Block 1998 Income Tax Guide” Simon & Schuster; 574 pages, $15

Contains sample IRS forms and worksheets, lots of filing tips and how not to miss overlooked deductions.

“J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Taxes 1998” Macmillian USA: 755 pages, $14.95

This hefty volume offers scads of information on how to maximize your deductions and strategies for handling future tax liabilities. Also contains a $2 rebate if you fill out and mail in their consumer survey.

“Ernest & Young Tax Guide 1988” John Wiley & Sons; 717 pages, $15.95

Another ample tome with a host of sections devoted to several tax-related matters. Provides both sample work forms and usable IRS filing forms.

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Doing Your Income Taxes 1998” Alpha Press; 434 pages, $12.95

Slender by comparison to other guides, this edition contains information on changes in the tax laws, filing definitions and tips, and tax forms.

Fund investors lost nerve

U.S. investors pulled money from both stock and bond mutual funds in the week ended Jan. 26, according to an industry research report.

An estimated net $1.06 billion was redeemed from funds investing in U.S. stocks, an additional net $2.28 billion was pulled from funds investing in non-U.S. stocks and about $360 million was withdrawn from bond funds, according to Trim Tabs Financial Services Inc., which tracks mutual fund money flows.

It marks the second week this month that money was redeemed from stock funds amid mounting concern about slowing corporate profit growth in the U.S. and continued turmoil in the Asian markets, according to Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Trim Tabs.

Among specific groups of funds, an estimated net $1.57 billion was redeemed from so-called aggressive growth funds in the week ended Jan. 26 while about a net $1.34 billion was invested in more conservatively managed “growth and income” equity funds, Trim Tabs reported.

Investors pulled an estimated $1.04 billion from municipal bond funds in the latest week and an estimated $150 million from government bond funds, Trim Tabs said. At the same time, junk bond funds had inflows totaling an estimated net $455 million.

, DataTimes

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