Lorain County Free Tax Prep Coalition Prepares for Upcoming Tax Season and Looks to Expand Services in 2018

12.7.17 The Lorain County Free Tax Prep Coalition is ready to help thousands of local people with free, high quality tax return preparation and filing services.
The goal of this coalition is to offer an alternative to paid preparers for low and moderate-income workers. Families and individuals can avoid paying filing fees by using one of the coalition’s seven tax preparation sites located throughout Greater Lorain County or by utilizing MyFreeTaxes.com.
The coalition completed 1,918 federal tax returns in 2017 that represented $523,614 in savings from average filing fees. An additional $2M was brought back to Lorain County in refunds.
“This program offers a tremendous economic benefit to Lorain County and we’ve had a great track record of success in providing high quality returns,” said Emily Rhoad, a member of the Lorain County Free Tax Prep Coalition and United Way of Greater Lorain County’s community impact associate. “Unfortunately, we know that less than 10 percent of those eligible are actually taking advantage of the service, and the best way for us to expand our reach is to train more volunteers.”
The coalition is currently recruiting to hire five paid site coordinators to oversee the different sites throughout tax season. Site coordinators are temporary part-time positions that will work 10-20 hours per week during tax season.
In addition to the site coordinators, there is still a need for volunteer tax preparers. Volunteers can be trained as basic or advanced level returners and can make their own schedule at one or multiple sites. Volunteer training is scheduled for Jan. 6 and 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at United Way’s office at 642 Broadway Ave in Lorain.
People who made about $60,000 or less in 2017 are generally eligible for the free tax prep services. Some coalition partners, including AARP, are able to offer services to those who may have a higher income or additional circumstances.
Beginning in January, individuals can call United Way of Greater Lorain County’s 2-1-1 First Call for Help (800-275-6106) to schedule appointments and obtain information about sites, hours of operation, and required documents.
At the sites, trained and IRS-certified volunteers prepare and file federal and state income tax returns at no charge with professionalism and confidentiality. The volunteers utilize a system for preparing the returns that was created by the IRS.
In addition to on-going appointments and walk-ins throughout the tax season, Super Saturdays are held every Saturday in February on a walk-in, first come, first serve basis. The Feb. 3 kickoff will be sponsored by Third Federal Savings and Loan.
Super Saturday locations include the Elyria Public Library West River Branch on Feb. 3, 10, and 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the LCCC Lorain City Center Branch on Feb. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information on paid site coordinator positions or to volunteer, contact Emily Rhoad at emily.rhoad@uwloraincounty.org or 440-277-6530 ext. 225.