Community tax centers offering free assistance


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 23 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- Tax season is underway. Across Austin free filing assistance is available. The Austin Community Tax Centers are expecting a busy season.

Foundation Communities opened the first free tax center in Austin in 2005. Every year since, more people have been coming for help. The IRS-certified volunteers helped more than 17,000 individuals and families file their taxes last year.
“A lot of clients that we serve really count on that tax refund, but doing your taxes can be complicated,” explained Deputy Director of Foundation Communities Julian Huerta. “There are a lot that go to paid preparers, but a lot of times there will be a pretty high fee for a simple return.”
The free tax assistance is available to individuals and families who make $50,000 or less a year. There are some exceptions for larger families.
Huerta says most people save hundreds of dollars, if not more, on both tax preparation services and refunds.
“By doing free tax preparation we can make sure that people get to keep all of their tax refund and use it in a way that can really help their family,” said Huerta. “For a lot of families their tax refund is going to be the single biggest check they're going to get in the year.”
This year however, Huerta says there will be a delay in getting those refunds. The IRS cannot process tax returns until late January. The fiscal cliff negotiations pushed back work. Most refunds will now be mailed out starting in February.
Those who plan to visit the community tax centers for help will need to provide a photo ID, all tax forms including W-2s & 1099s and either a Social Security card or a tax payer ID number for all individuals who will be listed on the return.
There are seven community tax center locations across Austin. Appointments can be made in person, online or over the phone. Walk-ins are also accepted. During the busy season, from late January through mid-March, people can also drop off their tax papers. Huerta says the return is completed on average within three days.

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