United Way of Greater Houston is making the service available at 17 Neighborhood Tax Centers locations. The center’s Elizabeth Colvin says it’s to help families access tax credits, including earned income tax credit and child tax credit.
“We have recruited volunteers and have certified them by the IRS to prepare taxes for free for families that make up to $45,000 a year. We provide the whole package–it’s free tax preparation, free electronic filing, free direct deposit. Because so many federal dollars of the Earned Income Tax Credit go unclaimed each year by people who–they know they don’t owe any taxes so they don’t file and then they miss out on claiming money that they could actually get back.”
Colvin says Neighborhood Tax Centers expects to prepare 15,000 free tax returns, which could result in returning about $20 million back to the Houston economy. She was inspired by similar efforts in other cities.
“Well, there are very successful programs in San Antonio and Austin and other places around the country that have been able to claim a lot of those unclaimed Earned Income Tax Credit dollars. And also to really help families get the full benefit of these credits, and Houston needed this program. Houston needed to have a way for families to file their taxes for free and really get all the money they’ve earned.”
More information is available at the tax preparer’s Neighborhood-centers Web site or by calling 211, the Texas/United Way helpline. Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.