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Free tax prep in Niagara County

The Consumer Credit Counseling Service’s Niagara County Financial Literacy Coalition will offer free tax preparation services for individuals and families with household incomes of $53,000 or less. Both state and federal taxes will be prepared.

Appointments are available from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays in February and March at Orleans Niagara BOCES, 140 Genesee St. in Lockport and Family and Children Services Center, 1522 Main St. in Niagara Falls.

The Coalition’s goal is to help low-income taxpayers maximize their refunds, paying special attention to the Earned-Income Tax Credit, and to help them avoid high-cost tax preparation as well as expensive “rapid refund” type refund anticipation checks. Taxpayers who use refund anticipation loans to get their tax return funds faster can pay up to $50 plus a percentage of their refund, which usually totals $200. Once the tax prep fee is factored in, low-income families can lose up to a week’s wages filing their taxes.

Participants must schedule an appointment by calling 712-2060. For more information, visit www.consumercreditbuffalo.org and click on “myfreetaxes.”