Start the tax season off right–make your appointment for free tax preparation

For the first time, an online appointment scheduling option will be available to people who need free tax preparation services and prefer to make appointments at their own convenience.

Amanda Hanson

“Every year we have people who try to make appointments after normal business hours, for example, and are sent to voicemail,” Tax Site Director Amanda Hanson said. “This way, we don’t have to ‘play phone tag’ – they can just log in at our website beginning Jan. 15.

This is one of several anticipated software improvements when compared to the previous year. A server overload experienced by the software provider delayed the 2017 tax site opening. “They have since restructured their system and also have corrected or addressed over 700 software issues,” Hanson said. And, the company has been working to make Minnesota Tax Return forms more accurate and user-friendly for preparers.

Things that are not expected to change include the new federal law that delays refunds that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). These refunds won’t be released until at least Feb. 15.

This delay will be universal for all tax service providers. Filers still are urged to make an appointment and file as soon as possible to avoid a backlog on Feb. 15.

 The White Earth Tax Site is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA offers quality, community-based tax services at no charge to help qualifying filers obtain the maximum tax credits allowable along with access to their full refunds. The following services will be provided in the Event Center of the Shooting Star Casino, Mahnomen, Minn., beginning Tuesday, Jan. 23.

  • Free on-site tax preparation and electronic filing. Beginning Jan. 16, call MMCDC at 1-800-752-6579 to schedule an appointment with a trained community volunteer or visit our website to select an appointment time. Filers also have the option of dropping off their tax materials at the site, and their return will be prepared and e-filed within a week.
  • Free self-preparation at This website allows filers who have access to a computer and Internet connection to prepare and electronically file their own returns using free tax software.
  • Free walk-in self-preparation using a tax site computer. No appointment necessary; computer availability on a first-come, first-served basis. The tax site will open 12-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday through March 8 in the Event Center at Shooting Star Casino; it will close Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.

To be eligible for the above taxpayer services, filers must have $60,000 annual adjusted gross income or less. There are types of income and expense on returns that the IRS does not allow volunteer preparers to complete.

Types of returns the White Earth Tax Site cannot complete include the following: businesses with employees, inventory, depreciation, businesses with more than $25,000 in expenses, rental income, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments, employee business expenses, moving expenses, complex capital gains, hobby income and mortgage foreclosures.

Taxpayers must bring a government-issued photo ID for filers and Social Security cards for all listed on the return.

For a quicker refund have it direct deposited by bringing the bank routing number and your account number for the tax preparer (voided check, a statement from the bank, or passbook).

This program is a service of White Earth Investment Initiative, with support from West Central Initiative; Shooting Star Casino, Hotel and Event Center; Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation; United Way Worldwide; and H&R Block.

With questions or to volunteer, contact Amanda Hanson, tax site coordinator, at 218-844-7020.