The Money in Your Pocket Coalition Free Tax Preparation Campaign can help financially struggling individuals and families file their 2013 federal, state and local tax returns.
There are 11 locations staffed with IRS-trained tax preparers throughout Allegheny County, including two nearby in Homewood—at the YMCA and YWCA branches—and one at Community College-Boyce Campus in Monroeville. (See attached PDF for all locations.)
Now in its fifth year, the free tax preparation campaign helps low and middle-income workers maximize their tax refunds by claiming valuable state and federal tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Services are provided free of charge, offering clients a cost-saving alternative to expensive commercial tax preparation fees.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal tax credit for people who work but do not earn high incomes. Taxpayers who quality for and claim the credit pay less federal tax, pay no tax at all, or even get a tax refund. Qualified residents could be eligible for a refund between $475 and $5,891.
“The Earned Income Tax Credit was created to assist hard working people struggling to make ends meet, but it is estimated that only 75 percent of those eligible actually apply,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “The Money in Your Pocket Coalition Free Tax Preparation Campaign strives to educate residents about their taxes, and assist them with filing, so that tax refunds are not left unclaimed."
"We want every Allegheny County citizen in need to be aware of the campaign. Tax refunds and tax credits, like EITC, can put thousands of dollars into their pockets. That’s money that can be used for basic needs, like putting food on the table, paying monthly utility bills, purchasing gasoline or bus passes, making rent payments, or eliminating personal debt.”
IRS-trained tax preparers help residents get the refund they deserve without expensive service fees and without predatory “payday” loans. In today’s economy, more workers may qualify due to reduced incomes. EITC can make their lives a little easier. The credit can increase their federal income tax refunds by up to $5,981, depending on their individual circumstances. But to get their EITC, they must know about the credit, then file and specifically claim it.
The Money in Your Pocket Coalition wants to reach every working individual who may qualify for EITC, including:
- Newly eligible taxpayers, due to changes in their income, marital or parental status during 2012
- Self-employed individuals
- Workers with disabilities
- Workers in non-traditional situations, such as grandparents raising grandchildren
- Childless workers, especially those whose earnings may be too low to require filing
- Workers with limited English proficiency.
Iindividuals can call 2-1-1, the free hotline providing easy access to health, housing and human services information. This year, PA 2-1-1 Southwest is taking Money in Your Pocket tax calls and scheduling appointments. In addition, PA 2-1-1 staff are making referrals to MyFreeTaxes.com, a resource for those residents with incomes higher than the program limits, but not exceeding $57,000.
Call specialists can also talk with residents about other resources available to help them in times of need.
Through April 15, volunteers will help Allegheny County residents whose annual incomes do not exceed $20,000 for an individual or $40,000 for a household that can claim at least one dependent. Residents can receive their refund in as little as nine days
A team of 150+ students, retirees and professionals have committed to volunteering at least three hours per week at one of tax sites. Volunteers have trained and been certified in the basics of IRS tax preparation.
For more information about the Free Tax Preparation Campaign, visit the Money In Your Pocket Coalition website at www.pghfreetaxes.org or dial 2-1-1.