January 17, 2014
Low and middle income workers and seniors struggling to make ends meet don’t have to pay to get their taxes prepared thanks to The Hudson Valley CASH Coalition and AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Individuals and families in Orange County can begin making appointments today to file their 2013 federal and state income taxes.
For the 2012 tax season, the CASH Coalition estimates customers who accessed this free service saved $877,650 in tax preparation costs. Last year, the Coalition prepared 3,913 returns in Dutchess County for low and middle income taxpayers and seniors, and for 1,938 filers in Orange. A Coalition exit survey showed that two-thirds of the filers made $29,000 or less. A total of 907 Dutchess and Orange County eligible taxpayers received $1,427,543 in Earned Income Tax Credit Refunds and all credits received by the 5,851 filers helped by the CASH Coalition totaled $6,198,278, which results in a local economic impact estimated to be more than $7.3 million.
Individuals can make an appointment for tax preparation services, or find the site nearest to them and the phone number of that location to make an appointment by calling the free Hudson Valley Region 2-1-1 helpline or by dialing 1-800-899-1479. The helpline is available daily, including weekends, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Services are offered at most sites by appointment only.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and the CASH Coalition will have 13 sites in Orange County as well as 5 sites in Putnam and 18 sites in Dutchess Counties to provide tax preparation services. Daytime, evening and weekend hours are available and assistance is provided to filers who require translation assistance or request sign language interpretation.
“All tax sites open February 3 and remain open until April 15. Customers can make an appointment today for any time in the filing season; they do not need to wait until they receive all necessary tax documents to secure their appointment,” said AARP Foundation Tax-Aide State Coordinator Edward Broderick. “Throughout Orange and Dutchess Counties, we have more than 125 volunteers ready to assist clients in preparing their taxes.”
“Last year, more than 1,700 customers in Dutchess and Orange Counties used the free tax preparation service for the first time and we anticipate that number to increase this season,” said Brian Lowell, Hudson Valley CASH Coalition’s Chair for Orange County. “Some tax sites will be open on Saturdays in an effort to accommodate those who cannot make weekday appointments.”
“Tax returns can assist a family pay their bills and rent, pay down their debt, get medical care, buy food or provide other basic needs. By helping our neighbors increase their annual income, we can also boost their chances of obtaining a job,” said United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region’s President and CEO Don Hammond. “That’s why it’s so important for United Way to be a Coalition partner since it fulfills our commitment to help people achieve financial stability in their lives.”
This year, some low to moderate income working families earning less than $52,427 and individuals making less than $14,590 could be entitled to the Earned Income Tax Credit. The IRS reports that the Earned Income Tax Credit annually lifts 6.6 million people out of poverty; half are children.
All volunteer tax counselors have received extensive training by AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and are certified by the IRS. Since 1968, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has been helping low to moderate-income taxpayers have more discretionary income for everyday essentials, such as food and housing, by assisting with tax services and ensuring taxpayers receive applicable tax credits and deductions.
Now is the best time to book appointments as call volumes increase greatly in February. During heavy call volume times, the best time to call is in the evenings or on weekends. Upon calling 2-1-1, a Call Specialist will review eligibility, secure the appointment, provide specific directions to the tax site as well as provide customers with a complete list of the documents required at the appointment.
Orange County partners in the Hudson Valley CASH Coalition include Literacy Orange, Orange County Office of Aging, AARP Foundation, United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Hudson Valley Region 211 and Fidelis Care. These organizations and volunteers work together to recruit volunteers, schedule appointments, and coordinate all the logistics of preparation sites.