Fee help available in filling out income tax forms

It’s that time of year again-income tax filing time-and three local agencies are again offering free assistance for folks who need help filing their tax returns.

Caring Connection in Marietta has received a $5,000 grant from the Ohio Benefit Bank to help with this year’s tax assistance program, said director Jim Tilley, who noted the agency has been filing taxes for six years now.

“Many people we help have concerns about tackling their own tax returns, so we’re here to help,” he said. “About 99 percent of the taxes we file are simple forms, although we can do some long forms.”

Tilley said Caring Connection helped approximately 120 families with their federal and state tax returns last year, and the agency hopes to serve around 150 this year.

“We try to target families from the mid- to lower income range as most households with higher incomes can usually afford to pay to have their tax returns filed,” he said. “We’ve had some people come in who said a paid preparer would not process their return because they worked part-time and didn’t make enough money to file. But even if you worked part-time, if you paid taxes you can get money back. And some of those families also qualify for earned income credit which can increase the amount they receive.”

Tilley noted Caring Connection can file federal forms, but the Ohio Benefit Bank software only allows the agency to file Ohio state tax forms.

“We have a lot of people who work in West Virginia, too, but we’re not able to file tax returns for that state,” he said.

The Internal Revenue Service won’t start accepting tax returns until Jan. 31, and Tilley said anyone needing tax assistance should call the Caring Connection office to set up an appointment.

Washington-Morgan Community Action also provides free tax help through the Ohio Benefit Bank, according to David Brightbill, executive director of community action.

“We’re also providing tax clinics on one Saturday in February for each of the two counties we serve this year,” he said. “But people need to call ahead for a Saturday appointment.”

Community Action is offering free tax help on an appointment basis from Feb. 3 through mid-April during regular business hours at the Marietta office on Putnam Street.

Income limits for free tax assistance at Washington-Morgan Community Action have increased to $95,000 for those using married filing jointly tax filing status, and $65,000 for all other tax filers.

Members of the O’Neill Center’s Retired Senior Volunteers Program have been providing free tax assistance through the AARP Tax Aide Program for many years, and will be offering the service at several locations through April 14.

In Marietta the volunteers will be located at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 312 Franklin St., on Mondays and Thursdays, at the Beverly Library Monday mornings, at the Barlow Library Wednesdays from Feb. 5 to April 9, and at the Marietta Township Park and Recreation Center, 260 Sandhill Road, Reno on Feb. 19 and March 19.