Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State offers free tax preparation, reminds working families of EITC refund

The Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS), in conjunction with the departments of Revenue and Labor, announced the opening of nearly 160 free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites across the state to provide free tax preparation to low- to moderate-income filers. The sites will be open through April 16. DSS is also urging working Louisiana families to find out if they are eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Drew Murray, director of Solutions to Poverty at DSS, which includes asset-building programs and EITC, said each year working Louisiana families fail to claim an estimated $100 million in EITC refunds for which they qualify. In many cases, the refund can be the equivalent of a $1- to $2-an­ hour pay raise.

Murray also cautioned families against the use of so-called “rapid refunds,” which really are high-interest loans: “Please save your money. Use a free tax service,” he said.

The federal EITC is a tax benefit for low- to moderate-income working families, including some without children. People who qualify can get a refund even if no taxes were taken out of their pay during the year. Residents also can file for back refunds for previous years.
Workers should bring the following to the VITA site to assist with preparation: a photo ID, Social Security numbers and birthdates for all household members and dependents; wage/earning statement(s) (W-2, W-2g, 1099-MISC, 1099-R); interest/dividend statements (1099 forms); if available, bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit; the total amount paid for day care in 2007 (if applicable); and day-care provider’s employer identification number or Social Security number.

Click here for a complete list of VITA sites throughout the state.

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