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Loss of free tax service is a disservice to low income Washington Countians

On behalf of the state’s hunger relief network, we thank the Marietta Times for their Jan. 30 editorial, “Free tax help crucial for so many people” for sharing our concern regarding where Ohioans will turn this year for free tax filing assistance.

For more than a decade, The Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) delivered critical services to vulnerable Ohioans, including Washington County residents, helping them access public benefits to improve their financial situation and position them for successful participation in their communities and economies. OBB’s tax services worked with individuals to help them maximize tax refunds and avoid high tax preparation fees.

Despite OBB’s extensive success over the past decade of connecting more than 1 million individuals and families with nearly $2 billion in work support programs and tax credits, long-time public funders no longer felt that funding for this critical service was necessary. This has now left thousands of income-eligible Washington County residents who were depending on this free tax filing support with nowhere to turn.

We applaud the Washington-Morgan Community Action, Caring Connection, and other leaders and community volunteers for their years of service in assisting individuals with preparing and filing their taxes free of charge.

We urge the community to find another resource for assisting these individuals in claiming their tax refunds they rely on to support themselves and their families.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt

Executive Director, Ohio Association of Foodbanks

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