Free Tax Preparation Assistance at Howard University


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“The free tax assistance program starts Tuesday and will run through April 13th. Please encourage your readers who make $50,000 or less to come get their taxes done for free.”

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  • To add to this list, there are additional VITA sites around the District, as well as in the MD/VA suburbs, with varying days and hours. Check http://dceitc.org/tax_sites.html for a list. Some sites offer assistance in Spanish, and I believe the MLK site also offers assistance in Chinese. Income limits are $35,000 for individuals and $51,000 for families. For those who are tight on money (and aren’t many of us, even if we’re outside of those income limits?), this is a GREAT way to save the potentially $100-$200 a professional tax preparer might charge. Everyone’s tax situation is different, and a professional preparer may indeed be necessary for some people–but in my experience (doing my own taxes for years and volunteering at one of the VITA sites), I know SO many people that have been conditioned to think taxes are insurmountably scary and complex, when in fact they have a relatively simple tax situation that could be handled for free through VITA (or even self-prepared). If you’re considering a professional preparer, the DC EITC campaign also has a helpful list of do’s and don’ts: http://dceitc.org/how_to_file.html. (May sound like common sense, but you wouldn’t believe how many fly-by-night tax preparers hang their shingles out in the neighborhoods–especially lower-income neighborhoods–come January, and some of them are seriously shady.)

    • A few more cost-saving options. If you have income under $57,000, you can file for free at http://www.myfreetaxes.com/ (a legit partnership between Walmart and the United Way). The IRS also has fillable forms on its website that you can e-file for free (if you’re comfortable doing the forms yourself as opposed to the “interview” approach that most tax prep website/software use), as do some states. And before visiting a commercial tax preparer that’s advertising “free” tax filing, read the fine print: for some preparers, the free filing offer only applies to the simplest of tax forms (like the 1040EZ), and it usually applies only to federal taxes, not state. (Not saying don’t go, just be aware–before you go through the trouble of visiting the office or starting your taxes on the website–of what’s included in the free offer and what they’ll try to upsell you on.)

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