Heather Conger helps  with free tax preparation at the United Way.
Jenn Goad Kokomo Herald
Heather Conger helps with free tax preparation at the United Way. Jenn Goad Kokomo Herald

United Way of Howard County knows how important tax return checks are to many of the community’s residents. That’s why they want to help as many people as possible stretch their return checks as far as possible. 

And to do so, they offer the Free Tax Prep program in conjunction with the IRS. It’s open to anyone whose household income is $60,000 or less. 

“The program saw the free filing of 1,950 tax returns in 2017 and hopes to file more than 2,000 this year. The average household income for clients using the program is under $18,000,” said Carman Toler, United Way community impact director. 

“United Way’s IRS-certified volunteers prepare and review every return using TaxSlayer software,” she said. “Our IRS certified volunteers have extensive training and experience in preparing taxes and capturing Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.”

The EITC and CTC are federal tax credits for low- and moderate-income working individuals that encourage work, help offset the cost of raising children, and lift millions of people out of poverty, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

“Annual household incomes for those utilizing our service often receive a refund of 8 to 15 percent of their annual income,” Toler said. “This lump sum check can be used to pay off debt, repair a home or vehicle or saved for future expenses.

“This program is an excellent building block to promote financial stability,” Toler said. 

For example, Toler tells the story of a woman with two preschool-aged children who used the program this year. 

“She is a full-time student and works part time,” Toler said. “Her refund gave her a 75 percent pay increase, allowing her to cover living expenses and childcare while she pursues her degree.”

The program is still accepting participants, but you must make an appointment with United Way. To sign up, visit www.meetme.so/freetaxprep or call the tax center directly at 765-450-7619.

Tax preparers will be available 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The program is held at the United Way of Howard County offices at 210 W. Walnut St. in downtown Kokomo.

For your appointment, you will need a photo ID, Social Security cards for people listed on the return, all income statements, rental or property tax information, and proof of health insurance.

Free Tax Prep is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance grant program. Designed by the IRS, the program was created to serve low- to moderate-income individuals, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speakers file their taxes each year.