Free Tax Help

"What's your name?"
"Glenda Blackmon."

This is the second year Glenda Blackmon has gone to the Ripley House  Neighbor Tax Center to get her tax return filed.

"Would you like to have it direct deposit?"
"No ma'am, I would not."

Blackmon makes less than $30-thousand dollars a year, which qualifies her to receive free tax help.  Families with incomes of less than $50-thousand can also get help.  Blackmon says she used to pay to have her taxes done, so now she's grateful for the free help.

"I think they're doing a really good job.  People who can't afford it, you know, to pay someone to do their taxes.  It's a good help.  It really is."

Allison Townsend is the assistant director of Neighborhood Tax Centers.  This is the fourth year they've offered free tax help to low income families. Townsend says they're starting off by opening a few centers with just one staff member each, but that number will increase in the coming weeks.

"We opened during this week so that we can have a slower week, and make sure all the glitches are out and everything is working fine.  We don't expect a full house the first week, but this room will be jammed pack full with 30-40 people waiting to have their tax returns starting next week."

They ran into at least one glitch on this day when the printer stopped working.  Clients waited patiently while the problem was being worked on.  Townsend says many of them are just anxious to get their money back.  And although there are income requirements, Townsend says her agency will make exceptions. She gave me an example.

"In 2011, a family earned more than our income criteria but this year, one of them might have lost their job.  They're unemployed, so they can't afford to pay for someone to do their return, charging $200- 300 dollars to have their returns."

There will eventually be 16 centers available for free tax help.  But even with the printer problems and only one staff member working, Glenda Blackmon wasn't about to wait another day to get her taxes filed.  She believes she's getting around $700 dollars back and she wants her refund as soon as possible.

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