Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Earned Income Tax Credit and Free Tax Filing Assistance in Ohio

Tax time is coming up quickly; be prepared.  If you earned less than $48,362 from wages or self-employment last year, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. EITC is a financial boost for working people hit by difficult economic times. You may qualify for the first time if your income, marital, or parental status changed during the 2010 tax year.

The IRS estimates that 20 to 25 percent of qualifying taxpayers miss out on thousands of dollars every year because they fail to claim their EITC. If you do qualify, you will likely get more money back from the IRS – as much as $5,666. Eligibility is based on several factors, including the source and amount of your income, or combined income if married, whether you have qualifying children and how many. Workers without children also may qualify. You may qualify for EITC even if you had no federal tax withheld or are not otherwise required to file. Use IRS’s online EITC Assistant to see if you qualify. If so, you must file in order to get it.

Need help filing your taxes? It’s best to avoid companies that promise you instant money, goods or services. Instead of getting your tax refund, you will be getting a very expensive Refund Anticipation Loan which could have a 200% annual interest rate. Even worse, you might end up owing more than your tax refund is worth and, if your return is filed incorrectly, you may wind up owing the IRS as well.

Free, reputable help is available at volunteer income tax assistance sites such as The Ohio Benefit Bank and at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. Call the appropriate number below or call the IRS at 1-800-906-9887 to learn more.  You can also file your taxes free online with easy, step by step instructions through the Ohio Benefit Bank by clicking here and through the IRS FreeFile Program by clicking here.   Refunds are issued within 7-10 days.  U.S. citizens aged 60 and above as well as others with disabilities or low income can also contact their local AARP Tax Aide program for free tax preparation assistance.

Taxpayer Assistance Centers:
Summit County residents (330) 861-6401
Columbiana County residents (330) 332-1163
Mahoning County residents (330) 941-2507
Portage County residents (330) 297-4636
Stark County residents (330) 994-0850
Wayne County residents (800) 961-0191

Finally, the IRS offers a wealth of information on their website, including a manual on how to file your federal tax return.  Taxpayers experiencing job loss or financial distress should click here for more information regarding installment payments and other options.  Individuals with low vision may find "talking tax forms", large print tax publications, and accessible tax forms helpful.

Source:  Community Legal Aid, Ohio Benefit Bank, U.S. Internal Revenue Service

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