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Free tax-filing help available

Tom Jackson • Feb 19, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Low-income residents who have a job are being urged to get free tax help so they can collect their Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal subsidy delivered through income tax returns that’s designed to make work pay.

United Way offices in Erie and Ottawa counties offer help to people who need it.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who crusades every year to make Ohioans aware of the EITC, said thousands of Ohioans who qualify for the money each year don’t get it because they failed to apply.

Last year, Brown said more than 950,000 Ohioans collected $2.1 billion from the tax credit. In 2011, the average EITC family claimed a credit of $2,200, Brown said.

Erie County United Way is in its fourth year of providing tax preparation help to low- and moderateincome taxpayers, said Pamela Brumbaugh, executive director of the agency.

People who need help may call the United Way office. Tax assistance is offered to individuals who earn less than $60,000 and households earning less than $90,000.

“We really stress the fact that our volunteers are not tax preparers. They are not trained in tax law. They just assist clients in filing their own taxes,” Brumbaugh said.

United Way needs more volunteers to help with tax preparation, she said.

Ottawa County residents can get tax preparation help from United Way of Greater Toledo by calling 2-1-1.

Brown announced last week that he is authoring a bill, the Working Families Tax Relief Act, to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Brown’s bill would expand the EITC for workers without children, who receive a much smaller tax credit than workers who do have children. It would lower the minimum age for receiving the credit from 25 to 21. Brown also is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Need help with your taxes?

•Erie County residents with a low or moderate income can schedule volunteer help in preparing their taxes by calling Erie County United Way at 419-625-4672.

•Ottawa County residents can get help by dialing 2-1-1.

•To learn about other locations across Ohio for getting tax help, call the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance hotline at: 1-800-906-9887.

•Ohioans with access to the Internet and gross incomes of $58,000 or less can do free online filing through the IRS website freefile.irs.gov/.

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