HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met for its luncheon meeting on Monday March 25, at Watson Hall. Rotarian Kyle Taylor hosted the guest speaker Sherry Locke from the United Way of Aroostook who spoke about their project called the “Aroostook Cash Coalition.”
The group provides tax assistance to people with an annual income of $54,000 or less.
UWA started the project seven years ago and began by providing service for the Presque Isle area. Two hundred people applied for the assistance that first year. The program is federally funded with an amount of $10,000 per year. And there are 20 “Community Partners” who also help to fund the program.
There is not an IRS office in Aroostook County where people can get help, so the UWA opened one in Houlton and another in Fort Kent. The Houlton office is located at the Houlton Higher Education Center and they now serve more than 1,000 residents in the County.
Clients are recommended by various entities such as Cary Library, Certified Public Accountants, and there are newspaper and radio advertisements. There is a specific number to call to make an appointment.
Once a taxpayer gets the appointment they are given a list of 12 things to bring with them. The Aroostook Cash Coalition services the most clients in the state and has a great success rate for getting their clients the most money in tax returns. There is a two-step process.
After the paperwork of the tax returns is done, the agreement is that the client will meet with a counselor. The counselor helps the client to assess their financial situation. The Coalition starts booking appointments in January and they now have 70 volunteers who go through special training to be qualified to fill out tax forms and make suggestions to the clients on how to get the most money back on their tax return.
The Coalition can be reached at 207-764-5197 and United Way Aroostook is located at 830 Main Street Unit 4 in Presque Isle, Maine with the other offices in Houlton and Fort Kent. The website is www.unitedwayaroostook.org.