With less than a month left before the April 15 tax filing deadline, Hudson Valley CASH Coalition and AARP Foundation Tax-Aide have appointments available for the free tax preparation program for eligible low and middle income workers and seniors struggling to make ends meet. The free tax preparation service, which is provided in conjunction with United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, is available by appointment at locations throughout both Dutchess and Orange Counties.
In Dutchess County, free tax preparation sites are available in Poughkeepsie, East Fishkill, Pleasant Valley, Rhinebeck, Beacon, Red Hook, Pine Plains, Millerton, Hyde Park, Dover, Wappinger Falls, Hopewell Junction, Millbrook, and Staatsburg. Tax sites in Orange County are located in Chester, Cornwall, Goshen, Highland Falls, Newburgh, Middletown, Montgomery, New Windsor, Pine Bush, Port Jervis, Washingtonville, and Warwick.
Individuals and families in Dutchess and Orange Counties can make appointments at one of these locations to file their 2013 federal and state income taxes by contacting United Way's free Hudson Valley Region 2-1-1 helpline or by calling 1-800-899-1479. Site hours of operation vary by location.
“In these tough economic times, I want to make sure that my neighbors in the Hudson Valley get every single one of their hard earned dollars back from the government. The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Care Tax Credit help working families who are already stretched too thin, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this earned benefit that puts real money back in the hands of hardworking Hudson Valley families,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said at the tax preparation kick-off press conference last month.
CASH, which stands for Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope has been helping residents of Dutchess and Orange Counties prepare their taxes for 11 years now. The Coalition is comprised of members from business, community, education, government, religious, social, and service organizations dedicated to helping low and middle income and seniors in the Hudson Valley save money and improve their financial stability. Through the tax preparation program they work to ensure filers receive their Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Care Credit, and any refunds which they may be due.
For the 2013 tax preparation 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 total of 907 Dutchess and Orange County eligible taxpayers received $1,427,543 in Earned Income Tax Credit Refunds and all credits and refunds received by the 5,851 filers helped by the CASH Coalition totaled $6,198,278.
"Many of those clients who received assistance with their taxes last year had an annual income of $29,000 or less," said Donald Hammond, President & CEO of United Way of the Dutchess and Orange Region. "A tax refund can go a long way in helping them to pay bills, buy groceries, or generally make ends meet - and the refund they receive is invested back in the community which last year resulted in a local economic impact estimated to be more than $7.3 million. The program helps residents maintain financial stability which is an important goal for United Way," Hammond added.
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 calling 1-800-899-1479. The helpline is available daily, including weekends, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Services are offered at all sites by appointment only. 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.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and the CASH Coalition will have 18 sites in Dutchess County and 13 sites in Orange County 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. Tax sites are open through April 15.
This year, some low to moderate income working families earning less than $51,567 and individuals making less than $14,340 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.
Partners in the Hudson Valley CASH Coalition include Dutchess County Community Action Agency, AARP Foundation, United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Hudson Valley Region 211, Fidelis Care, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Taconic Resources for Independence, North East Community Center, Catholic Charities, Pathstone, Literacy Orange, and Orange County Office for the Aging. These organizations and volunteers work together to recruit volunteers, schedule appointments, and coordinate all the logistics of preparation sites.