United Way free tax sites open now, with added benefits

Monday, January 28, 2013

United Way urges middle and low income earners to avoid preparation fees and keep more of what they earn.

United Way of King County is once again bringing truly free tax preparation to 17 sites throughout King County, with sites open immediately. While the IRS has delayed the start of filing season until January 30, United Way has opened its tax sites early to help mitigate the impact the delay will have on low income families who are expecting large refunds.

In Shoreline, the United Way Free Tax Site is located at Hopelink, 15809 Westminster Way N.

The program is designed to help low and middle-income families increase their financial security.  At the sites, United Way will prepare income tax returns with an eye to take full advantage of all the possible credits available, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“United Way of King County started the Free Tax Preparation Campaign because we know that when people are able to establish savings, it creates a cushion that stabilizes their lives and can help them from falling into crisis,” said United Way of King County President and CEO Jon Fine.  “Many people are still struggling and this program provides an opportunity to help low income families save money and take advantage of other benefits they may not be aware they are eligible to receive.”

In addition to preparing federal tax returns, United Way is offering other services at the sites, such as applications for public benefits like food stamps and utility assistance, assistance with FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form completion and providing free credit reports.

United Way Tax Preparation is free for anyone making under $51,000 and will run through April 15th. Services will be provided in multiple languages, including Cambodian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Somali, Amharic, Korean, Chinese, Tigrinya, and Russian by more than 650 IRS certified volunteers.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal tax program that reduces the amount of income tax owed by low to moderate income workers. It is considered the largest anti-poverty tool in the US.  In 2010, the EITC lifted about 6.3 million people out of poverty, including about $3.3 million children.

Last year, United Way’s Free Tax Prep Campaign filed 14,400 returns and brought back $20.7 million in refunds to the community; $7 million of which came from the Earned Income Tax Credit. On average, taxpayers got back $1,400 in refunds.

Taxpayers must bring photo identification and Social Security Cards (or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers) for themselves, spouses and dependents.  They should also bring wage and earnings statements (Forms W-2), interest and dividend information concerning their income and expenses for the year of 2011.

Site locations, hours of operation,  maps and more information here or call 2-1-1. People can also file for free online if they make under $57,000.

United Way of King County’s Free Tax Prep Campaign is made possible by generous sponsorships from the City of Seattle, the Boeing Company and the Internal Revenue Service.


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