Press release from the United Way of Allen County:
Free tax preparation available for low and moderate income residents
(January 13, 2009) Any family earning less than $49,000 annually should think twice about paying someone to prepare their taxes; they may qualify for free tax preparation and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC can put as much as $5,000 back in some families’ bank accounts and that money can be used to pay for necessities like rent or mortgage.
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Members of the Financial Stability Partnership, including United Way of Allen County and the Volunteer Center @ RSVP, announced the free tax preparation program today, at the same time volunteers were being trained to file taxes.
As much as $6 million in tax credits go unclaimed in Allen County each year. Each year, the number of returns filed and people applying for tax credits goes up, thanks to the local EITC effort. Last year, the Financial Stability Partnership helped 1,344 low- and middle-income residents file their returns. $1.7 million was returned to these residents and the community because of this. Last year, 41 residents volunteered to go through training to become a tax preparer; this year 64 volunteers are working with the program.
“Each year, the free tax preparation program grows to serve more people and I hope this year we’ll again experience growth,” said Jerry Peterson, president and CEO of United Way of Allen County. “United Way is proud to help bring the community together to fund and support these efforts.”
A new twist to this year’s effort includes the option to file taxes for active military and National Guard personnel; several volunteers are going through extra training to learn this process. And, the AARP is working more closely with the Financial Stability Partnership this year, so that more volunteers will be available to help with the effort.
“It is so rewarding to do this work,” said Jean Joley, executive director of the Volunteer Center @RSVP. “Our volunteers tell us of countless stories where residents receive significant tax returns that help them pay critical bills, such as rent and mortgage payments, utility bills and more.”
To determine if they qualify, residents may pick up an EITC flyer at CANI, United Way, the Volunteer Center, all library branches and many other social service organizations. Or, they can download it from the following websites: www.unitedwayallencounty.org, www.volunteerfortwayne.org, and www.aarp.org/taxaide. Or, residents may dial 2-1-1 and ask for information from a trained phone counselor.
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Free tax preparation is available from January 30 to April 13 at a variety of dates and times. Assistance is available at Community Action of NE Indiana, 227 E. Washington Blvd., on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Or, residents can visit St. Mary’s Church, 1101 S. Lafayette St., Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12 to 3 p.m. Residents can also call the Euell A. Wilson Center at 260.456.2917 and make an appointment for assistance in filing their tax return. And, Senator Richard Lugar’s office will have volunteer tax preparers available to help with tax filing on Friday, January 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. at his northeast Indiana office in 6384 West Jefferson Blvd.
AARP tax preparation sites are attached and are open to any individual. Active Military and National Guard personnel can receive assistance at all of the above sites.
Many local organizations are assisting with this effort. The City of Fort Wayne provides Community Development Block Grant dollars and primary funding comes from United Way of Allen County.
Members of the Financial Stability Partnership include: Volunteer Center @ RSVP, United Way of Allen County, Community Action of NE Indiana, St. Mary’s Church, Euell A. Wilson Center, Hispanic Leadership Coalition of Northeast Indiana, National City Bank, Three Rivers Federal Credit Union, Public Service Credit Union, Wells Fargo Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, Internal Revenue Service, American Red Cross – Multicultural Exchange (MIX), Catholic Campaign for Human Dignity, Fire Police City County Federal Credit Union, First Source Bank, Consumer Credit Counseling Service, U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar’s Northeast Indiana Community Service Center, and the City of Fort Wayne.