As Americans go to pick up their tax forms and get ready to file, a local nonprofit coalition and the University at Buffalo School of Management are gearing up to offer free preparation of returns for low-income taxpayers in Western New York.
The Creating Assets, Savings and Hope coalition, or CASH, is kicking off its efforts with a day of free tax preparation and filing, as well as access to other services, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The services will be available at the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers Hope Center at the Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main St., Buffalo.
Separately, IRS-certified accounting students from UB's School of Management will provide free tax preparation on both the North and South campuses for eligible taxpayers. The service is coordinated by the UB chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an international honors group for accounting and finance students, with help from the UB Accounting Association.
On the South Campus, the service will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis in 109 Allen Hall, on Feb. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and 27 and March 5-6. On the North Campus, services will be offered in 106 Jacobs Management Center on March 26-27 and April 2, 3, 9 and 10.
Taxpayers should bring proof of identification, an original Social Security card for each filer and dependent, dates of birth, wage and earning statements from employers, interest and dividend statements, a copy of last year's federal and state tax returns, and bank routing and account numbers, if they want refunds to be direct-deposited into their accounts.
Individuals and families earning less than $50,000 per year are eligible for free tax preparation from trained preparers, as well as other services from local banks, educational institutions, health and human service organizations and government agencies. The IRS has estimated that using free services can save taxpayers $100 to $300 in fees.
The services will also help qualifying low-income working taxpayers to file for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is refundable and can provide as much as $5,028 for a family with two children.
The IRS is not mailing out tax forms this year, so filers will have to go to a library, post office or community center to obtain forms. People can also go online to www.irs.gov to get forms.