EITC Coalition offers free tax assistance for low income families

Free tax assistance is currently available for low and moderate income families in Cuyahoga County who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or make less than $49,000 a year.

The Cuyahoga Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition provides free income tax preparation for those who qualify for the EITC, a refundable tax credit available to working adults. In the past, families with three or more children received the same EITC as families with two children. The federal stimulus created a new EITC category for families with three or more children and increased the credit amount for all EITC filers in 2009 and 2010. The maximum EITC will now increase to $5,657, and the average is roughly $2,000.

“Trained community volunteers provide low-income taxpayers with quality tax preparation, asset building opportunities and other services in order to strengthen our neighborhoods' economies,” says Kathleen Matthews, program coordinator for the Cuyahoga Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition. “When you file free with us, you get your full refund and fast.”

Tax preparation is done at the coalition's many free tax sites throughout Cuyahoga County. In addition, the coalition sites offer free electronic filing (e-filing) and services to promote financial independence.

Many filers are subject to filing fees and refund anticipation loans (RALs) sold to them by paid tax preparers. These fees and loans are avoided by using the coalition’s sites, which are quick and efficient alternatives to paid preparers. These costs can easily take 1/6 of a family’s refund.

Matthews added, “By 2009, almost 8,000 clients received $10.5 million in refunds. By seeking assistance from these sites, clients saved an estimated $2 million in preparation and loan fees.”

Appointments are strongly encouraged. For more information or to make an appointment, call First Call for Help by dialing 2-1-1 or 216-436-2000. Follow the coalition on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RefundOhio and join the Facebook group – Cuyahoga EITC Coalition.

Mary Patton is a public relations consultant and University Heights resident.

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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 10:10 PM, 03.08.2010