Free tax help is available Jan. 22 through April 16 by local nonprofit group CASH Oregon, in cooperation with the American Association of Retired Persons. The two groups are especially focusing on helping taxpayers benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. On Saturday, Feb. 5, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., KeyBank and CASH Oregon are offering "Super Refund Saturday" -- a free tax preparation event inside Lloyd Center Mall, Suite 2010.
The EITC is a federal income tax credit that returns money to low- to moderate-income households. Unfortunately, taxpayer advocates say, up to 25 percent of eligible households miss out on EITC benefits they are entitled to receive each year, largely because they are unaware of the law.
If you qualify for the EITC for tax year 2010, you may be eligible for anywhere between $457 and $5,666. The tax credit is calculated according to the number of qualifying children you have, compared to your "earned income."
"Specifically, that means, at the low end, single taxpayers making less than $13,460 with no qualifying children could get $457," says Rob Justus, executive director of CASH Oregon. "Different ranges of income and children would land you somewhere in the middle," he says.
At the high end, married taxpayers filing jointly, making less than $48,362 with three or more qualifying children could receive $5,666.
Your child is a "qualifying child" if he or she meets four tests, which are based on: their relationship to you; their age; where they live; and if they are filing a joint return or not.
Justus says a tax preparer can help you understand the specifics of each of these requirements to determine if your child is considered a "qualifying child."
"The good news is that, in many communities, you can obtain free assistance in filing your tax return and learn if you are eligible for the EITC," he says.
No matter where you decide to have your taxes prepared, be sure to collect these important documents and bring them with you:
• W-2 Forms (reporting full-time wages)
• 1099 Forms (reporting part-time work and interest income)
• Unemployment forms
• Proof of child care payments
• Social Security card for yourself and each dependent
• Other IRS forms as appropriate
• Bank account information
• Valid photo ID
• Previous year's tax return
For a full list of free tax-help sites, visit www.cashoregon.org or call 2-1-1.
PHOTO: US Federal Reserve Building courtesy of Wikipedia.