Free help with income taxes available locally
Those in Washington County who qualify based on age or income and are looking for free assistance in preparing their 2012 federal and state taxes have options to choose from in the Marietta area.
Those include programs offered at the O’Neill Center, Caring Connection, Washington-Morgan Community Action and the AARP free Tax-Aide Program.
“There’s no charge to prepare taxes, and you get your refund in 7 to 10 days with electronic file,” said Jim Tilley, director of Caring Connection.
The O’Neill Center provides “counselor assisted tax filing using the secure Ohio Benefit Bank online tax program,” said Sara Beaver, the center’s benefits enrollment counselor.
“The expertise is built into the program,” she said. “We just plug in the information.”
When coming in for an appointment to have 2012 taxes done, participants should bring in a photo ID, Social Security card for all household members and W2s received from an employer.
Those 55 and older using the O’Neill Center’s services should also bring their 1099-Rs (such as pension and annuity statements), Social Security statement, and forms for any interest and dividend income that must be reported.
Tax appointments can take from 20 minutes at Community Action to one hour at Caring Connection or the O’Neill Center, depending on the difficulty of the taxes being prepared or the number of family members being served.
“We schedule a half hour but it usually doesn’t take us that long,” said Carrie McNamee, director of senior and community services at Community Action.
O’Neill Center, Caring Connection and Community Action will begin booking appointments around Jan. 31.
A gross annual household income of $60,000 or lower is required to use the free tax preparation services offered by these three agencies.
“This year, we will be making appointments for at least one evening a week and one Saturday a month,” said Tilley.
To address clients who can only come to Community Action on weekends, the agency will also host a “Super Saturday Tax Day Clinic,” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 2.
“We’ll stay open extra hours if need be for people who can’t come in before 4:30 (p.m.) or on that Saturday,” McNamee said.
Delays in avoiding the nation’s fiscal cliff have also delayed certain tax-related procedures.
“We have a new 1040 form, but no new set of 1040 instructions,” Tilley said.
What’s more, electronic filing, which usually begins in mid January has been moved back to Jan. 22 because of fiscal cliff issues, he added.
News about the nation’s fiscal cliff has had many residents worried about their tax filings, Tilley said.
“The fiscal cliff problems have absolutely nothing to do with the (2012) taxes you’re filing now,” he stressed.
Caring Connection, a Washington County United Way agency, served about 110 families in 2012.
Community Action provided free tax services to 300 individuals last year.
“We’re hoping for between 250 and 300 again this year,” said McNamee.
In 2012, the O’Neill Center helped with 42 federal tax returns and 39 state returns for those 55 and older.
“If we can help anybody on a limited income and save them any tax preparation fees, that’s our goal,” said Beaver.
“That just gives seniors more disposable income to use on food, shelter expenses and medical expenses,” she added.
Those 55 or older can call the O’Neill Center at 373-3914, Ext. 17 to schedule an appointment.
To make an appointment to use Caring Connection, call 376-9903 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Monday through Friday.
Telephone Community Action at 373-3745 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment, or to participate in the “Super Saturday Tax Day Clinic” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 2.
The Ohio Benefit Bank is a program of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger. It has helped hundreds of thousands of Ohioans access life-changing programs and resources.
The Benefit Bank also offers tax preparation via the Internet, with a service that provides easy to use, step-by-step instructions and an expert system designed to maximize refunds and tax credits.
To access the Benefit Bank online service, go to selfserve.thebenefitbank.org.
The AARP free Tax-Aide Program will be offered at several Washington County locations from Feb. 1 through April 15. No appointments are required, and there are no age or income requirements.
In Marietta, the Tax-Aide Program will be offered at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 312 Franklin St., Marietta, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays from Feb. 4 to April 15.
Those in the Barlow area can access the AARP program at Barlow Library, 45 White Oak Professional Center, Vincent, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays from Feb. 6 to April 10.
In Beverly, the program will be held at Lyman-Pomeroy Beverly Library, 300 McIntosh St., Beverly, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays from Feb. 4 to April 15.
The Marietta Township Recreation Center, Sandhill Road, Reno, will host two additional programs from 12:30 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 20 and March 20.
Free help in preparing 2012 tax returns for those who qualify is also available from the IRS through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.
To find a VITA site phone 800-906-9887; phone 888-227-7669 for a TCE program site, or log on to www.irs.gov.
Midnight, April 15, is the deadline to file state and federal tax returns.