Free Tax Help for Low-Income Families

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Working families that make less than $50,000 a year are getting a break.

They're now eligible to have a professional do their taxes for free.

News 4's Demetria McClenton spoke with local organizers about the free program that's generating buzz.

"A lot of people aren't aware of this service," said Executive Director of the Wiregrass United Way David Duke.

That service Duke is talking about is “Impact Alabama.”

"It’s a free income tax preparation program especially for the low-income families, where people can't afford to pay someone," said Duke.

2-1-1 is working with other agencies, even Wallace Community College to help people take advantage of the program.

If you meet the following criteria, then you're eligible.

You must make less than $50,000 a year if kids are in the home or $20,000 a year without kids.

"Not only will you be able to file as a free service, but to file as an e-file and get your return quick to," said Duke.

"We're trying to do what we can to educate people to be informed consumers," said staff attorney Mary Jane Oakley.

Oakley has her clients live by the motto, “hang on to as much money as they can and when they part with it get as much bang for their buck."

She says majority of her clients are low-income families who rely on payday loan services to prepare their taxes.

While it’s quick and seemingly easy, Oakley says it's not worth it.

"I've seen people pay ridiculous amounts so they can get their refunds quicker. I just hate to see people pay money to get money when they don't have it to give," said Oakley.

Duke has seen the calls double since last year and he wants it to continue.

“If you give us a call we'll tell you what location to go to," said Duke.

Last year tax returns were prepared for more than 4300 families in Alabama.

Another incentive for the program is a $50,000 sweepstakes. For more information contact the Wiregrass United Way 2-1-1.

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