Beginning Feb. 1, the Cherokee Nation will offer its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to help eligible families prepare to file their 2022 state and federal income tax forms for free.
The VITA program has prepared and submitted nearly 18,000 tax returns in the past 10 years, helping taxpayers receive nearly $24 million in tax refunds including earned income tax credits. Last year alone, the tribe’s VITA program helped more than 1,900 taxpayers by saving preparation fees of up to $400 that are normally charged for those services.
“The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is important to our communities and tribal citizens. It allows for families and individuals to file for free and save the money they would have spent on tax preparer fees,” said Stephen Highers, with Cherokee Nation Commerce.
The Cherokee Nation has partnered with the IRS for over 40 years to provide the free tax preparation program to Native and non-Native families. To qualify for the service, an individual and household income must not exceed more than $60,000 per year. There is no jurisdictional boundary requirement to be eligible for this program.
This year, the service will run Feb. 1 through April 13. Volunteers from various departments throughout Cherokee Nation will be preparing the returns using the basic 1040 form. All returns will be e-filed by VITA at no charge.
Appointments must be made at one of 13 tax preparation sites, including Tahlequah, Pryor, Westville, Stilwell, Sallisaw, Salina, Catoosa, Claremore, Jay, Muskogee, Vinita, Ochelata and Nowata. Tahlequah also offers walk-in services on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
To use the service, families must provide a photo ID, Social Security card and birth date for each person listed on the return; individual taxpayer identification numbers; W-2s, 1099s; a copy of the previous year’s tax return; documentation of deductions; and bank account information for direct deposit. Additional documents may be required.
To find a VITA program anywhere in the U.S., call l-800-906-9887 or visit https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/.
For individuals or families with an annual income of $73,000 or less, the tribe’s Commerce department recommends preparing state and federal taxes online for free at www.olt.com/main/vita.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Cherokee Nation Commerce at 918-453-5536.
The following is a list of free tax preparation sites offered by Cherokee Nation:
Tahlequah: Cherokee Nation Osiyo Room, 17695 S. Muskogee.
Open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays by appointment only.
Pryor: Cherokee Nation Career Services, 6789 US-69 S.
Open 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday by appointment only.
Westville: Westville Public Library, 116 N. Williams.
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 14, March 21 and March 28 by appointment only.
Stilwell: Cherokee Nation Career Services, 406 A W. Locust.
Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays by appointment only.
Sallisaw: Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation, 2260 W. Cherokee.
Open 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays by appointment only.
Catoosa: J W Sam Building, 701 W Rollins.
Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays by appointment only.
Claremore: Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation, 23205 S. Hwy 66.
Open 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. on Tuesdays by appointment only.
Jay: Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation, 1300 W. Cherokee.
Open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays by appointment only.
Salina: Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Site, 900 Owen Walters Blvd.
Open 9:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays by appointment only.
Muskogee: Three Rivers Health Clinic, 1001 S 41 St. E. 2nd floor.
Open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays by appointment only.
Vinita: Vinita Health Center, 27371 S 4410 Rd.
Open 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 7 and 28, as well as March 21 and April 11 by appointment only.
Ochelata: Cooweescoowee Health Clinic, 39500 W. 2900 Rd.
Open 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 14, as well as March 7 and March 28 by appointment only.
Nowata: Will Rogers Health Clinic, 1020 Lenape Dr.
Open 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 21, March 14 and April 4 by appointment only.