Tax season can be a stressful time for many people, particularly for those who struggle to make ends meet. However, for many hard-working residents, the stress of tax season can be particularly intense, as they may not have the resources to pay for professional tax preparation services or may not feel confident in their ability to navigate the complex tax system on their own.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: Free Tax Prep Impact Initiative led by United Way of Greater Lorain County. This service is provided by the IRS through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA program, providing free tax preparation services to individuals and families with low to moderate incomes. Here are just a few of the ways that Free Tax Prep can benefits Greater Lorain County residents:

It’s free
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of Free Tax Prep is that it is completely free. For many residents, this can make a huge difference in their ability to access the resources they need to file their taxes properly. Without having to worry about paying for tax preparation services, families can focus on making sure that they get the maximum refund possible and avoid costly penalties or fees. Families rely on this refund to pay bills/expenses/debt/make it through the year, so every penny counts.

Access to trained tax preparers
Free Tax Prep volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS to provide tax preparation services. They are knowledgeable about the tax code and can help individuals navigate the complex tax system with confidence. This can be particularly important for those who may be unfamiliar with the tax system or who have complicated tax situations.

Maximizing refunds and tax credits
Volunteers can help low-income residents identify and claim tax credits and deductions that they may be eligible for. This can include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is a refundable tax credit for low to moderate-income working individuals and families. According to the IRS, the average EITC amount in 2021 was over $2,500. Claiming this credit can make a significant difference in the financial well-being of low-income residents.

Electronic filing
Free Tax Prep volunteers are trained to file taxes electronically, which speeds up the processing of returns and ensure that refunds are received as quickly and securely as possible. For residents who may be relying on their tax refund to cover essential expenses, such as rent or utilities, this can be particularly important.

Support for the local community
Since Free Tax Prep is a volunteer-based program, this means that it relies on members of the community to provide tax preparation services. By participating in Free Tax Prep, Greater Lorain County families can not only benefit from the program themselves but also help support their local community by volunteering their time and expertise.

The Free Tax Prep Impact Initiative offered by United Way of Greater Lorain County can be a valuable resource for hard-working residents. By providing access to trained tax preparers, maximizing refunds and tax credits, filing electronically, and offering free services, the service can help alleviate some of the financial stress that can come with tax season. If you or someone you know could benefit from this service, please contact 211 for more information and scheduling.

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