Free Tax Prep Has Proved Valuable for Washingtonians
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
It's the season of potentially confusing income-tax forms and line items, but free tax help is available for many Washingtonians who need it.
The United Way of King County runs a tax preparation service, with preparers certified through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA helps people with incomes of typically $58,000 a year or less.
Marty Thompson, a volunteer with the United Way of King County's program for 12 years, said for a few years, he did taxes for a family of five, three of whom were undocumented, and got them a big return.
"They came in. They hadn't done taxes for a number of years, and I did their taxes for the permitted number of years," Thompson explained. "Got them over $15,000 in refund."
People are able to receive past refunds, including for the Earned Income Tax Credit, if they file their tax returns within three years of the return's due date. Thompson noted because of the pandemic, he will be preparing taxes online two days a week, with help from getyourrefund.org, and one day at the downtown Seattle library.
In 2020, when COVID-19 pushed tax prep online, United Way of King County still was able to help 10,000 people with their taxes, with refunds totaling $18 million.
Thompson urged people to start thinking about filing now.
"It sometimes takes a couple of weeks to put together a full tax return," Thompson explained. "We encourage people to get on it as soon as possible, especially if they owe money, because there's a deadline of April 18th this year for filing your taxes."
United Way of King County was set to begin working on in-person returns this week, but the Omicron wave pushed it back to next week. COVID-19 protocols will be in place in order to keep people safe.
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