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A taxing situation

Area senior centers offer preparation assistance

February 10, 2011
By RENEE PRUSI Journal Staff Writer

ISHPEMING - Ellen Korpi and Tom Anderson were right on time for their appointments and they had all the necessary paperwork with them.

Both have done this before, "this" being receiving tax preparation help through the Ishpeming Senior Center.

With income tax season in full swing, local senior centers are offering assistance for seniors who want to have their returns prepared.

Article Photos

Ellen Korpi and Wes Wentela talk as Wentela works to prepare Korpi’s tax return at the Ishpeming Senior Center Tuesday. Wentela is a volunteer who helps seniors with their tax forms each year. Korpi, 90, has been getting her taxes done through the center for several years. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)

"It's something that has been done here since probably the 1970s," said Elyse Bertucci, senior center director. "With a grant, we can defray costs."

For Korpi, getting ready for the appointment was easy.

"I've got all my papers," she said. "I have been collecting them because I knew I was coming in here."

Korpi, who's 90, is a busy lady. She volunteers at the Ishpeming center as well as the Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette and works on many knitting projects. She likes the convenience of the program and has been coming to the senior center for tax preparation assistance for several years.

"They do a good job here," she said. "I am satisfied with everything they've done to help me. I'm busy. Too busy when I have to shovel. So it's nice to be able to come here."

Anderson said he's been using the service for about five years.

"I have been working with Dorothy on my taxes and I have kept coming back to her," he said. "I wouldn't go anywhere else."

Dorothy is Dorothy Kuhn, one of the volunteer preparers in at the Ishpeming Senior Center on a bone-chilling Tuesday morning.

"I was a bookkeeper here and when I retired, I volunteered to do this," she said. "So I have been doing this here since 1996."

Wes Wentela is another volunteer tax preparer at the Ishpeming Senior Center. He's another busy person, helping with the Ishpeming Ski Club, the Key Clubs at Ishpeming, Westwood and Negaunee high schools and with the Champion-Humboldt-Beacon Historical Society.

A graduate of Champion HIgh, Wentela - who has lived in Ishpeming since 1955 - is retired from the Marquette County Road Commission.

"My work for the road commission was in administration," Wentela said. "I started doing tax returns for my co-workers while I was there.

"In 1991, I retired and when the ski hall moved into its new location, I asked if they needed help in the area of accounting," he said. "So I helped there and then I started volunteering for tax time here."

Wentela said there's one thing in particular he likes to look at before starting on a senior's taxes.

"I like to see the previous year's income tax report," he said. "That's a good place to start."

Kuhn concurred.

"I like to know what the person did last year so you can compare," she said. "And it's important they remember to have all their financials with them. We don't do the returns that include deductions but we need to know the whole financial picture."

In addition to Ishpeming's tax preparation assistance, other local senior centers do offer some tax-time help, including the centers in Marquette, Negaunee and Gwinn.

Any senior looking for tax-preparation assistance should contact any of these centers for more information.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is



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