BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The Bernards Township Library, a long-time sponsor of the local chapter of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), is set to begin offering the IRS-endorsed free tax return preparation for seniors and others with low to moderate income residents as of Feb. 9, according to the library.

To follow through on the program -- which Library Director Ruth Lufkin said has been offered for at least 30 years at the township library -- the library is seeking additional volunteer tax preparers. The preparers do not need to be professional accountants.

The current team consists of six individuals who each give four to six hours per week toward assisting taxpayers from mid-February through mid-April, Lufkin said. The volunteer positions offer training and potential for obtaining continuing education credits, according to the library.

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Last year, the VITA team prepared about 130 returns, she said. Residents with incomes of up to about $60,000 annually qualify for the program, Lufkin said.

Friends of the Library team up with township library

Lufkin said she isn't sure exactly how long the township library and the Friends of the Library have partnered to provide VITA service but it's definitely been more than 30 years. She said the first mention she has found of the program being held at the library is around 1984.

Appointments for tax preparation help begin next week, Feb. 9, she said. Circulation staff are taking bookings, she added.

Tax preparers needed

Anyone who has done their own taxes and who would like to learn more while giving back to the community is welcome, according to the library. "The program uses very good tax preparation software and provides training in both tax law and tax preparation," according to information from Lufkin.

Volunteer tax preparers will also have the possibility of earning continuing education credits for this volunteer work for commercial tax preparers, Certified Public Accountants, or enrolled agents.

Those who might like to volunteer should leave their name and phone number with the circulation desk staff at the Bernards Township Library (908-204-3031, x. 2 or ababits@bernards.org); the team leader, Joe Ryder, will contact those who express an interest.

The Bernards Township Library is located at 32 S. Maple Ave., Basking Ridge.