2022 United Way Free Community Tax Service offers free tax preparation sites in Brown and Monroe counties
United Way of Monroe County, along with other community partners, is pleased to provide the Free Community Tax Service during the upcoming tax season. Beginning January 31, IRS-certified volunteers will be working at six in-person and two virtual sites in Monroe and Brown counties where they will help Hoosiers who make less than $58,000 annually file their federal and state tax returns for free.
Tax preparation is provided free of charge and volunteers work one-on-one with community members to ensure they receive 100% of their refund, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) if eligible. Residents will receive their tax returns quickly – usually in about 21 days.
Last year, the Free Community Tax Service program brought together 50 volunteers to help local residents file 959 federal returns, saving clients as much as $438,263 in tax preparation fees and bringing back more than $1,361,802 in refunds and credits, at 6 full-service VITA sites managed by United Way, plus 2 completely virtual sites managed by AARP/TCE. Clients reported using those funds and the Earned Income Tax Credits to pay for food, clothing, bills, rent, and to put toward savings. 119 filers received Earned Income Tax credits.
In conjunction with personal finance classes, free financial coaching, and the Bank on Bloomington program, the Free Community Tax Service is a key component of United Way of Monroe County’s financial stability initiatives.
Amy Leyenbeck, Community Impact Director at United Way of Monroe County, says, “We are glad for the opportunity to continue to offer this important service to our community despite the ongoing pandemic. We know how critical these refunds and credits are to our clients and in bringing back money to be spent supporting our local economy. I am continually amazed by the dedicated volunteers who help residents file with the free tax service under these unusual circumstances. Now more than ever people are going to be relying on their tax refunds and credits for financial assistance during this difficult economy. We are working hard to ensure a safe experience for everyone, and we are grateful that our clients trust us with their health and their tax returns.”
SERVICE AND TAX UPDATES
COVID-19 Safety Protocols
The Free Community Tax Service will be offering six in-person sites with COVID-19 health and safety precautions in place. Two locations will offer virtual preparation.
Advanced Child Tax Credits
If families received Advanced Child Tax Credit payments from the IRS in 2021, they will be mailed Letter 6419 in January 2022. This letter provides the total amount of payments disbursed during 2021. Families should keep this letter and bring it with them when they file their tax return.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can result in a significant income boost - up to $6,728 for those who qualify. The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for low- and moderate-income working individuals and families. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes owed. Since it is a refundable credit, when the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.
Unfortunately, 1 out of 5 people who are eligible don’t claim their credit. Claiming the EITC is particularly important at a time when more workers may qualify due to reduced incomes. In order to claim the EITC, residents must file their tax returns, even if they are not required to file for another reason. Luckily, United Way’s tax volunteers are trained to ensure everyone who is eligible can access the EITC and any other potential credits.
This year, no locations are certified to assist with preparation for nonresident taxpayers. Taxpayers who know the number of days they were present in the United States in 2019, 2020, and 2021, can calculate their residency status for tax purposes at www.monroeunitedway.org/freetaxes-residency. Nonresidents with any relation to Indiana University can contact the Office of International Services for assistance: www.ois.iu.edu.
Those who received unemployment income in 2021 are likely to owe some amount when filing their taxes. Tax preparers at the Free Community Tax Service can provide taxpayers with information about setting up a payment plan to help ease the burden of repaying owed taxes.
Bilingual tax preparation assistance available
The Free Community Tax Service team is partnering with the City of Bloomington and the Banneker Community Center to provide a full-service Spanish Language tax site. Spanish speaking residents can file their taxes at this site with a certified bilingual volunteer, making the filing process much smoother and less intimidating for those residents. Appointments can be made in Spanish by calling (812) 349-3860.
Free, Convenient Online Filing
Area residents with a combined Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $72,000 or less can file online. Visit https://www.monroeunitedway.org/FreeFile to find a product that’s right for you.
Along with United Way of Monroe County and Financial Stability Alliance, partners of the Free Community Tax Service include 2-1-1, AARP, MCCSC Broadview Adult Learning, Brown County Public Library, City of Bloomington, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington, Monroe County Public Library, the YMCA, and community volunteers.
For more information
To learn more about the Free Community Tax Service, free tax preparation sites dates and times, a tax preparation checklist, the EITC, and to see if they qualify, residents can visit www.MonroeUnitedWay.org/FreeTaxes.
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