As the tax season kicks off and tax payers are looking to get the most out of their refund, United Way of Greater Houston and Neighborhood Centers Inc. are reminding people in the Houston area to take advantage of their quality, free tax preparation services.
IRS-certified preparers assist families and individuals earning up to $58,000, helping them retain every dollar of their refund and saving the average $200 cost of professional tax preparation services.
While the word “free” is used by many paid preparers, clients are often subject to staggering interest rates on predatory loans offered as “refund advances.” With the recent announcement by the IRS that taxpayers claiming the Earned Income and Additional Child Tax Credits will have their refund delayed, there is an increased risk of losing hard-earned money to these refund advances.
Thanks to the support of United Way of Greater Houston and, families utilizing this free tax preparation service avoid paying these high fees and can access United Way SAVE, a matched savings account program that enables them to set aside part or all of their tax refund right away and receive a 25 percent match.
“Our free tax preparation services are intended to increase family financial stability and enable hardworking families to use their entire tax refund for important things like paying for basic needs, covering their children’s school expenses or saving for a rainy day,” said Jose Perez, director of Neighborhood Centers Program.
In addition to helping clients file taxes for the 2016 year, Neighborhood Centers can prepare prior returns and amendments back to the 2011 tax year for free. Since 2009, over 251,000 tax returns have been prepared with more than $339 million returned to the Houston community.
Important documents that taxpayers must bring include: Photo ID, Social Security cards or ITIN letters for everyone on the tax return, proof of income (W2, 1099, etc.), 1095 form, health coverage statement and a check with bank account and routing number for direct deposit of any refund.
For more information on location and hours, visit www.freetaxcenters.org or call the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE.
Fort Bend County residents can visit the United Way Fort Bend Service Center, 12300 Parc Crest Dr., Stafford.