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Tax-Help Time : Many local groups offer free assistance preparing federal, state and renter's credit forms.


Well, April Fool's Day came and went again. Ironically, so did my hard-earned greenbacks. Not being known for sterling bookkeeping skills, I called in reinforcements--the professional organizer--the night before my dreaded annual tax appointment with the CPA.

Luckily for seniors, there is free help with such odious tasks. Any taxpayer who is either 59 and over and/or low-income, non-English-speaking, hearing-impaired or shut-in can get help from trained members of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).

The volunteers offer free help with the preparation of federal and state income tax returns and renter's credit forms. Assistance is usually available on a walk-in basis at several locations across the county through April 15.

Volunteer Vicki Bordagaray, 74, has been helping fellow seniors with their tax forms at the Santa Clara Senior Center in Ventura for about 17 years. But the retired lab technician said she has been doing volunteer work for more than 50 years.

"The first time was in 1941 when my husband asked me to prepare his 1940 return for him," the Ventura resident said. "It was one sheet with everything on the front and back. He was a baseball player with the New York Yankees that year with Joe DiMaggio when they won the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers."

Bordagaray said she enjoys the challenge of tax preparation because she likes to figure out puzzles. She also enjoys helping senior citizens.

VITA/TCE tax volunteers, she said, attend one week of training every January to learn about new laws and what has been discontinued. "'And everything we prepare is confidential. We can't keep any paperwork," she said.

Clyde and Velvina Blasbell are repeat clients of the service. As far as Velvina, 83, is concerned, this tax help is the greatest thing since sliced bread. "It took almost an hour and a half," Blasbell said. "And they won't even accept a tip!"


Free VITA/TCE tax assistance, sponsored by the California Franchise Tax Board, is available at the following locations through April 15. Walk-in service is available at most sites. To make an appointment or request shut-in services, call the nonprofit, community action agency Commission on Human Concerns at 486-4725 unless another telephone number is provided. For information, call toll-free 1-(800) 522-5665, or (916) 369-4241, or write Education and Outreach, P.O. Box 520, Rancho Cordova CA 95741.

CAMARILLO: Camarillo Library, 3100 Ponderosa Drive, 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays, 482-1952; Camarillo Senior Center, 1605 E. Burnley St., 10 a.m. to noon Mondays, 482-4881; Century 21 real estate office, 2011 Ventura Blvd., 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays; Al Fox Realty, 5800 Santa Rosa Road, Unit 133, 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays, also shut-in service, 987-5825.

FILLMORE: Fillmore Senior Center, 533 Santa Clara Ave., 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, shut-in service also, 524-4533; Fillmore Volunteer Service, 455 Sespe Ave., noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

MOORPARK: Moorpark Catholic Social Service, 77 1st St., 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays, also Spanish services, 529-0720.

OAK VIEW: Oak View Public Library, 469 N. Ventura Ave., 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays, 649-1523.

OJAI: HELP of Ojai, R.S.V.P. Little House, 111 W. Santa Ana St., 1:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, shut-in service also, 646-7787; Whispering Oaks, 999 E. Ojai Ave., 9 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, 646-7787.

OXNARD: Internal Revenue Service office, 2500 Financial Square, Suite 1, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, service in Spanish also, 988-2120; El Centrito (Old Ramona School), 804 Cooper Road, 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, service in Spanish also; Oxnard Community Center, 800 Hobson Way, 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays; Oxnard Library, 251 S. A St., 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, service in Spanish also, 984-4636; Independent Living Resource Center, 555 S. A St., Suite 265, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, shut-in service also, service for hearing-impaired/American Sign Language by appointment only; Wilson Senior Center, 310 N. C St., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, service in Spanish also, 984-7645; VCCA Senior Recreational Center, 200 W. Pleasant Valley Road, 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays.

PORT HUENEME: Port Hueneme Community Center, 550 Park Ave., 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays; Port Hueneme Prueter Library, 510 Park Ave., 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

SANTA PAULA: Santa Paula Community Center, 530 Main St., 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays, service in Spanish also, 525-4478, Ext. 263.

SATICOY: Gregory Gardens, 9620 Telephone Road, 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays, 647-7643.

SIMI VALLEY: Simi Valley Library, 2969 Tapo Canyon Road, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 2 to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 526-1735.

THOUSAND OAKS: Human Services Center, 80 E. Hillcrest Drive, 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays; Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays.

VENTURA: Ventura Avenue Adult Center, 550 N. Ventura Ave., 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and 9 to 11:30 a.m. Thursdays, also shut-in service 648-3035; Santa Clara Senior Center, 420 Santa Clara St., 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays; Ventura Terrace Apartments, 6600 E. Telephone Road, 9 a.m. to noon Friday only, also shut-in service.

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