For many people, filing taxes each year is a dreaded task. It can be difficult, time consuming, confusing and expensive. But a program is helping veterans and families in need file their taxes for free.
"I think it's nice. You know, that we have someplace to go to get some help. Because we definitely -- I definitely need it," said J.P. Gerecke, a veteran who served in the Vietnam War.
Veterans like JP are welcomed by the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, where they can get help filing their taxes.
"It's nice to be able to help giving back, even if it's just in the capacity of just administrative oversight," said Ben Stahl, the CEO of the Veterans Leadership Program.
Professionals volunteer their time to go through receipts and prepare taxes, including back taxes, if necessary.
The location in Pittsburgh's strip district started with a smaller center on the South Side. Frank Petrini, a longtime volunteer, started it, when he looked for a way to give back while finishing his graduate degree.
"When I was back to school, money was tight so I didn't have cash. But I did know how to do tax returns, so I thought, 'yeah, I can do this,'" said Petrini.
The venture, which started small, now boasts 16 volunteers.
"For me, acknowledging the sacrifice that each one of those men and women have given to this country is important, and we need to help them in any way we can," said Petrini.
"It's nice to help the veterans because they let you sleep at night," said Gerecke.
The program isn't just for veterans. Through the United Way, the center will help any family or individual in need which qualifies financially. That means any household earning below $54,000 is eligible for assistance, and any veteran is eligible, regardless of income.
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