Free Tax Preparation for Eligible Tax Payers
United Way of Southwest Alabama is once again leading the South Alabama Free E-File (SAFE) Coalition to provide opportunities for eligible tax payers to receive free tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. There are numerous VITA and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) tax preparation sites located throughout Southwest Alabama.
These sites are staffed by volunteers, trained and certified by the IRS, who ask the needed questions to find out if tax payers qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other refundable tax credits. Volunteers at VITA sites also prepare and electronically file tax returns at no cost for those with a 2017 household income of $54,000 or less. Taxpayers 60 years and over are eligible for free tax preparation through the TCE program.
Last year, the SAFE Coalition filed more than 3,000 tax returns, which resulted in more than $4 million returned to the community through tax refunds and tax credits.
“Our community volunteers help you get tax credits you may be eligible for as well as the maximum refund you’re due,” said VITA Program Director Brad Martin. “Our goal is to help you get it and get it right. This is money you can save or use to pay off bills, buy that car to get to work or make a down payment on a home. Let us help make your life a little easier.”
Another way United Way and the SAFE Coalition help struggling workers in our community is by connecting them with the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This tax season, approximately 26 million working families and individuals will claim the EITC and this tax refund can make up as much as 30% of their annual income.
EITC greatly reduces poverty for working families. These working family credits lifted an estimated 9.4 million people out of poverty, including 5 million children.
Friday, January 26, 2018, marks the 12th anniversary of EITC Awareness Day, a nationwide effort to increase awareness about EITC and free tax preparation sites. Each year, one-third of the population eligible for EITC changes, leaving billions of dollars in tax credits unclaimed.
“We want to get the word out to those who are eligible to file a tax return even if they don’t owe any taxes to claim the EITC and other tax credits,” said Martin. “It’s money workers can use for groceries, rent, utilities, and other bills.”
Those with a 2017 household income of $66,000 or less are eligible to file their own federal and state tax returns for free using name brand online software accessible through the MyFreeTaxes program.
Tax payers should contact United Way’s 2-1-1 by dialing 2-1-1 or toll-free 1-888-421-1266 or visit our free tax preparation web page for more information about the various free tax preparation opportunities available.