Monday, January 31, 2011

NeighborWorks Network Organizations Offer Free Tax Prep Services

As W-2 and other income forms make their way to taxpayers’ mailboxes, signaling the start of the 2010 tax season, NeighborWorks America reminds consumers to be aware of the real cost of quick refund services offered in the market today and to seek advice from nonprofit organizations that provide free tax preparation services.

Several NeighborWorks network organizations offer free tax preparation services to new and existing low- and moderate-income clients. Depending on the complexity of the return, using a free service can save each taxpayer hundreds of dollars.

The economy continues to be the big story and many NeighborWorks organizations are here to help low- and moderate-income families prepare or to find help to prepare their returns professionally, quickly and comprehensively,” said Chris Krehmeyer, president and CEO of Beyond Housing, a NeighborWorks network member based in St. Louis. “The foreclosure situation around the country means that for many there’s new paperwork and having someone experience helping out could be a big relief.”

Most NeighborWorks organizations that offer free tax preparation help are staffed with volunteer tax professionals who believe in helping their community.

NeighborWorks America also wants consumers to be financially savvy in their short-term finance decisions, particularly those that relate to tax-refund anticipation loans. Refund anticipation loans are costly and often unnecessary because taxpayers who file their returns electronically often can expect to have their tax refund within about 10 days if they choose the direct deposit option.

And despite the weaker than normal housing market in 2010, many low- and moderate-income people became first-time homeowners this year, said Roy Nash, executive director of NeighborWorks® Waco. Many of them may have never filed an itemized return and may now benefit from the longer form.

"Our volunteer tax preparers have had great training,” said Roy Nash, executive director of NeighborWorks Waco. “We think that the tax preparation service is an added value to the people of our community and is in keeping with our mission of service and economic empowerment.”

It’s best to call ahead to your local NeighborWorks organization to determine if they offer tax services or have a referral network of free, trained professionals ready to help. Contact information for local NeighborWorks network organizations can be found at