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Liberty Church Completes 13th Year of Free Tax Preparation
Story by Mirlene Andre
Members of the Allegheny East Conference’s Liberty church in Baltimore just wrapped up their 13th year of providing free tax preparation to the community. With the leadership of Mamie Harrigan, an employee of the IRS, members utilize the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to file the returns. IRS employee-volunteers train church members to prepare tax forms. In addition, other IRS employees volunteer their services. In 2010 Liberty members prepared and electronically filed more than 500 tax returns.
The VITA program runs each Sunday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. from late January through the last Sunday in March. Other church ministries also supplement the VITA programs: Sisters for Christ sells snacks, Personal Ministries has a book exchange, Health Ministries provides screening and members provide cooking classes.
Church members also survey those getting their taxes done on what other services the church can provide. Survey respondents have shown interest in exercise and health programs, a clothing and food pantry and computer training. Many of Liberty’s current programs, including the soup kitchen, food pantry and computer training class were developed and/or enhanced as a result of the responses to the surveys conducted during this program. These community service programs now fall under the umbrella of the church’s newest ministry, Civic Evangelism Services.