In 2012, low- and moderate-income Allen County residents claimed more than $3 million in tax refunds thanks to the Free Tax Preparation Program coordinated by United Way of Allen County and the Volunteer Center RSVP. That was a 22 percent increase over the previous year's $2.5 million. A total of 2,029 area residents received free tax assistance provided by dozens of IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers.
United Way of Allen County and Volunteer Center RSVP are hoping to increase these numbers again. Any family or individual earning less than $57,000 annually qualifies for the Free Tax Preparation program organized by members of the Financial Stability Partnership. IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers help residents file their taxes and claim available credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Credits may help families get as much as a $5,000 refund.
The Free Tax Preparation program saves residents fees for tax preparation and e-filing as well (approximately one-third of participants paid to have their taxes done in prior years). It also ensured that individuals had access to high-quality tax services. This program is carried out by volunteers who give more than 3,500 hours of service. Volunteer tax preparers are highly trained, certified and consistently ranked among the most accurate and reliable in the nation.
Since the program's inception, refunds returned to local residents have more than doubled from $1.3 million, to last year's highest ever claims of more than $3 million. As much as $6 million in tax credits go unclaimed in Allen County annually. Each year, the number of returns filed and people applying for tax credits goes up, thanks to the local Free Tax Preparation effort.
To learn more about the Free Tax Preparation program, residents can pick up a flyer at CANI (Community Action of Northeast Indiana), United Way, Volunteer Center RSVP or many other social-service organizations. A flyer can also be downloaded from www.UnitedWayAllenCounty.org/initiatives. Or, residents may dial 2-1-1 and ask for information from a trained phone counselor.