Accountant Andrew Kolchian has helped people file their taxes for free each of the past 11 years through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

“It’s such a great feeling because I feel like I am using my knowledge of taxes for a really good purpose,” Kolchian said Tuesday afternoon.

To keep people safe from the coronavirus, it’s a virtual process this year, and Kolchian has set up shop inside an RV outside Catholic Charities in Albany, where he works full-time.

“What that means is we will scan in the taxpayers' documents, and we will prepare the return later on,” said Kolchian, who’s worked at Catholic Charities for about six years.

Halfway through this year’s tax season, millions of Americans will soon be getting a third federal stimulus check, along with their returns.

“Most clients we see here at Catholic Charities are low-income clients,” Kolchian said. “This new stimulus check that they are going to get for $1,400 is going to be a huge help for them.”

What You Need To Know

  • Catholic Charities accountant Andrew Kolchian has been helping people file free tax returns for the past 11 years through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

  • Kolchian says all three of the federal stimulus checks paid out during the pandemic are not taxable and do not impact this year’s returns

  • Kolchian says eligible people who haven’t previously qualified for the stimulus because their 2019 income was too high, but saw their earnings decrease in 2020 will receive the payment, along with their tax return

Many clients are quick to ask Kolchian about the impact the stimulus will have on their return, which he says is none at all.

“They are absolutely not taxable, either the $1,200 and the $600, and then this new one for $1,400. They are not taxable at all,” Kolchian said of the three checks that have been paid out since the pandemic began.

Kolchian also says there’s good news for many people who haven't qualified for one of the three checks yet because their 2019 income was too high, but saw their employment and earnings suffer in 2020.

“If you did not receive your stimulus checks because your 2019 income was too high, or some other circumstance, but in 2020 you now qualify for the stimulus payments, you will get those stimulus payments as an extra refund on your tax return,” he said.

Generally speaking, as long as you have your information and paperwork in order, Kolchian says this year’s filing process is no more complicated than years past.

He says it’s still rewarding to help people along the way.

“We are saving clients an average of probably $300 or $400 a piece, so it just feels really good to be able to use my tax knowledge to just help other people save a lot of money,” Kolchian said.

Leading up to the April 15 deadline, Catholic Charities will offer the free tax preparation on Sundays and one other rotating day each week at its pastoral center at 40 N. Main Avenue in Albany.