Tax time is here. And many taxpayers can have their returns prepared free of charge!
Volunteers with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will be at 2800 Southwest Boulevard to prepare income tax returns Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. from February 4 to April 15. Prior year returns and amended returns can also be prepared beginning March 18.
Tulsa Area United Way facilitates the VITA program locally. Individuals and families with household
income up to $54,000 are eligible. The other VITA site locations, scheduled to open in February, are:
East Side Christian Church 1438 S. Indianapolis Avenue Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Tulsa Dream Center 200 W. 46th St. North
Mondays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges
815 S. Utica
Thursdays, 5-8 p.m.
8145 E. 17th Street
Tuesdays, 9 a.m-3 p.m. Spanish is spoken here.
You can call 2-1-1 Helpline for other sites and hours in Tulsa. If you are outside Tulsa,
Online with MyFreeTaxes
If you are comfortable working on computers and earn up to $64,000, you can prepare your own taxes online at no cost at MyFreeTaxes.com.
Sponsored by United Way, with support from H&R Block®, MyFreeTaxes is a free, safe and easy way for anyone with household income up to $64,000 to file state and federal taxes. And it’s optimized for mobile devices so filers can enter data into their secure account anytime and anywhere.
Assistance is available through online chat or the helpline, 1-855-My-Tx-Help
(1-855-698-9435). Save the money that you’d spend on tax software or going to a paid preparer. Check it out here.
Important note on EITC, ACT credits
Beginning this year, a new law requires the IRS to hold your Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child
Tax Credit refund until February 15. The IRS must hold the entire refund not just the credit portion.
You don’t need to wait, however, to file your tax return. AND going to a paid preparer will NOT make
your refund come faster. VITA volunteers and MyFreeTaxes can check if you are eligible to claim
these valuable credits. For instance, the EITC helps workers keep more of what they earn to pay for things
such as childcare, groceries, and car repairs to get to work. Learn more here.
You went to write a note in your desk calendar, saw Dec. 31 staring back at you, and then realized January had somehow still sneaked up on you. (Haven’t we all been there?)
Take the sting out of not having the foresight to order a 2017 calendar by making your own. Here are five fun ideas we found for your work desk and the home. You can buy ready-made pieces for your project. The real fun, however, is figuring out what you can find to upcycle or repurpose at the thrift shop.
1. Julia Marchand of Jeeze, Julia!, and a featured blogger for Goodwill Industries International, tried to help us before the holidays. She was going for speed with her idea, and so she used a nice photo stand as a base for a custom photo desk calendar. See it at The Goodwill Blog.
2. This clever idea by Leila turned paint samples into a bright, colorful and chic calendar. See it at chicism.
3. We saw many variants of this desktop calendar with hanging pages using a shadow box and cup hooks. This version by Southern Living shows how to make it shine with some glitter and craft paper. (Video from the Southern Living YouTube channel)
4. “Simple & Chic” is the perfect way to describe this desktop calendar. To make it, PBunnieP used a steady hand and nice lined notepad paper. You can often find notepads on the wares shelves at Goodwill. (Video from the PBunnieP YouTube channel)
5. Chalkboard calendars are cool. Even cooler when you can make one from a repurposed mirror like this by Elizabeth of Within the Grove. It helps you stay organized while adding some pizazz to your home décor. See it at Within the Grove.
Now you can say you have an excuse for being late with your 2017 calendar. What kinds of DIY calendar projects have you tried? Let us know in the comments below.
By Sherry Gipson, MS, CSP
Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy
Do you remember when your parents told you first impressions are so important? In an interview, this is absolutely true and is only part of what makes interviewing a challenge in today’s marketplace. After training adults to prepare for an interview, the most overlooked question - and frankly badly answered - is still used by most recruiters and hiring managers. This question is, of course, “tell me a little about yourself." Job seekers have interpreted this question as small talk, a personal question, or a “let’s get warmed up before the real discussion begins …." and this has led to a pointless first impression. It can also determine the remainder of the discussion, and the eventual outcome.
So, how can we fix it? First of all, job seekers need to know that this question is designed to inquire about your professional self and is not the time to talk about your efforts in gardening, your grandkids, or your racecar driving hobby. It is the best time to discuss the skills you have that the job position requires. One tool to help you prepare an answer is to think about three things (1) what you are doing now that adds value toward the workforce, (2) what you have experienced in the past that contributes to the position, and (3) how both of these things will make you successful within the organization.
Make a list of the skills and abilities that you have learned through education, training, and experience on previous jobs. Are you a good team player? provide meaningful customer service? leadership? strategic thinking? Spend time reviewing the job description and the organization and determine what you can contribute and then develop some phrases from this list. For example, if the job description requires “excellent verbal and written communication skills” you might describe an experience where you participated on a team and collaborated with fellow team members through effective face-to-face personal interactions and followed up with detailed written communication.
Having a pre-thought-out, individual plan to positively answer this first interview question will enable the job seeker to show a level of professionalism and move forward with the interview in a confident and effectual manner.
Sherry Gipson is a training instructor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has a Master's degree in Training and Development and a Bachelor's degee in Human Resources Management. She trains adults to prepare for the workforce through personal branding, resume development, and improving interview skills.
This article was first published October 27, 2016 on LinkedIn.
As much as I hate to admit it, my mother was right. It is always polite to never show up to a party empty-handed, whether it be food for the guests or, more important, a gift for the hostess. With the holiday party season around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect gift.
The task itself can seem daunting to some, but here are five easy ideas to help; ALL are items I found at Goodwill!
1. Decorative glasses/cups: For the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” friend in the group, two etched or decorated wine glasses are an easy gift. If the hostess does not drink alcohol, coffee cups are also a good choice!
2. Coffee table books: For the hostess you don’t know well, a couple of garden books, stargazing books, or even cookbooks are classic gifts that can be excellent conversation starters!
3. Hanging signs/canvases: For the Okie or Okie at heart, Oklahoma-themed signs, such as Route 66, or family-themed signs are sure to please!
4. Decorative Pillows: For the fashionista or creative hostess, decorative pillows are a must. The cuter or fluffier, the better!
5. Vases: For the gardener or all-around hostess, a vase is a classic gift that is always appreciated and loved around the house. It doesn’t have to be fancy, either! Something as simple as a colorful watering jug can do the trick.
All of these ideas can also be combined to impress the hostess.
You’d be surprised at the quality of products you are able to find at Goodwill, such as these items from the 3110 Southwest Boulevard Store. Not only are these things you’d find in Pier 1 Imports or a local boutique, but they were within my holiday budget!
Don’t be the guest that shows up to the party empty-handed. Make an impression with the perfect gift for the hostess!
Kelly Olivieri is Goodwill Tulsa’s digital communications intern, who always follows her mom's advice.