Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 2, 2001 - Issue 37



Cherokee Nation Welcomes IRS … Really!



TAHLEQUAH, OK - Few people welcome representatives of the Internal Revenue Service with open arms. And it's hard to imagine that it will be a good day when an IRS employee backs up a truck at your warehouse. But strange as it may seem, the Cherokee Nation was more than happy to see that IRS employee, James Hellams, this past week.

"I'm the guy from the IRS that people like to see," he said.

The IRS has donated 200 computers to the Cherokee Nation for use in communities. "The idea is that during tax season, volunteers can help people file their taxes electronically," Hellams said. "When they aren't need for tax preparation, the communities can use the computers however they want."

The computers are being replaced by the government agencies, but are far from obsolete.

"I'm impressed by the computers the communities will be getting," said Todd Enlow, director of Cherokee Nation's Information Systems. "Most of these are Pentium IIs, and a lot have CD read/write drives. They have all the gadgets."

The computers also come with licensed software and operating systems. The IRS plans to deliver 100 more computers within eight weeks, and will replace all the equipment within newer technology within two years.

"We'll keep the software up to date too," Hellams said. "Part of our partnership with the Cherokee Nation is to help people in the communities with their taxes."

The technology will also help members of Cherokee communities to take advantage of tax breaks they may have been missing.

"There's not a lot of awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and were going to increase awareness through a comprehensive education plan," said Ustee Grass, a Cherokee Nation employee who helped coordinate efforts with the IRS. "And the computers will make it easier for people to get their taxes prepared and take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit."

The cooperative effort to bring these computers to communities began in Washington, D.C. Leigh Ann McGee, who works in the Cherokee Nation's D.C. Office, began communications with the IRS about the project a couple of months ago.

The Cherokee Nation is the first Native American tribe to work with the IRS under this equipment-sharing program.

"We're using this as a pilot program for tribes," Hellams said. "I'm very impressed with the technological expertise at the Cherokee Nation."



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