Cherokee Tribal Member Offers Free Tax Preparation

Wednesday, February 16th 2011, 5:00 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

UNDATED -- Filing a tax return can be difficult for those can't afford to pay for a tax preparer. For thirty years, a special member of the Cherokee Nation has been making sure anyone who needs it can get their taxes done.

Sandy Long loves numbers, calculators, and doing taxes.

"Oh I think she's good at it," Jennie Cameron, a Cherokee Tribal Member, said, laughing.

Long has been doing taxes for fellow members of the Cherokee tribe for 30 years. She volunteers for it and has never been paid a dime.

"I like to meet the people, I like to help them," she said. "I like to keep them from having to pay a lot of money to have something done that they can get here free."

Long is here three days a week for nearly eight hours a day. Last year she prepared 600 tax forms and so far this year's she's already at 150.

Dan Bewley, News On 6: "She does this all on a volunteer basis. What does that mean for you in order to get your taxes done? Does that help you out a lot?"
Jennie Cameron, Cherokee Tribal Member: "Helps me out a whole lot."

Long was recently recognized by both the IRS and the Cherokee Nation for her 30 years of volunteering and Cherokee leaders say one word sums her up: amazing.

"It makes you feel good inside. It makes you feel good all over that you're helping people," Long said.

Long has done it for so long she's starting to see the grandchildren of people she first helped thirty years ago. The IRS believes she's been volunteering in its income tax assistance program longer than any other person in the country.

As long as tribal members need help with their taxes, Long says she's not going anywhere.

"No, I'm staying right here," she said.

You don't have to be a member of the Cherokee tribe to get Long's help. But you do have to live within the Cherokee Nation and meet certain income guidelines.