COUNTYWIDE : Tax Helpers to Work Out of IRS Office

Few people associate the Internal Revenue Service with convenience, but a new program at the IRS district office in Laguna Niguel promises just that for Orange County residents in lower income brackets.

The IRS this week opened its office there to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which offers free assistance to tax filers earning $20,000 to $30,000 per year.

Although the program itself is 25 years old, this is the first time that a tax assistance site has been opened in an IRS district office in Orange County, said Judith Golden, an IRS spokeswoman.

At the district office, returns also can be filed electronically, which provides a cheaper, speedier and more accurate return.

Program workers will be available in Laguna Niguel to assist the public from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Golden cautioned that the volunteers have limited training and "can only handle simple returns," she said.

Golden said local IRS officials will evaluate the success of the program after the April 17 tax-filing deadline.

The office is in the Chet Holifield Federal Building, 24000 Avila Road, in Laguna Niguel.

Those seeking more information should call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.

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