Low income taxpayers in Montgomery County have a variety of opportunities to get free income tax preparation and tax counseling before the Tuesday, April 18 tax deadline. Through the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs, local volunteers help low-to-moderate income residents and seniors file their taxes and learn about important tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and renter’s credits. Working with County agencies and nonprofits, volunteers are trained and certified to assist residents as they prepare state and federal returns for 2016. There are many locations throughout the community and varying service days and hours. All options can be found by visiting www.montgomerycountymd.gov/CASHBACK or by calling 3-1-1.
This year, additional groups have stepped up to serve households earning up to $54,000 a year, including Asian-American Homeownership Counseling, Inc.; and the Tzu Chi Foundation, both who deliver services in Rockville. CentroNia, an early childhood program, is hosting Ana Mendez University at its Takoma Park site, expanding services beyond the original Wheaton campus location. Community Tax Aid provides free tax help in Silver Spring and Rockville; the Chinese Culture & Community Service Center delivers free tax help in Gaithersburg; and CASA de Maryland assists taxpayers at its Rockville location.
The VITA and TCE, the RSVP/AARP Tax Aide program serves low-to-moderate taxpayers and provides special attention to seniors at sites located in Chevy Chase, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Kensington, Olney, Poolesville, Rockville and Silver Spring. The Community Action Agency, part of the Montgomery
Department of Health and Human Services, works with its partners to serve taxpayers in Burtonsville, Gaithersburg and Wheaton, as well as its Rockville office and TESS Center in Takoma Park/East Silver Spring. Between June and October, Community Action also helps taxpayers who need assistance with tax resolution matters, or in filing back taxes.
The IRS programs ensure that taxes are e-filed so that refunds are received as quickly as possible, and without the extra fees that many families struggle to afford. Taunya Johnson, the VITA coordinator at Community Action Agency, has been preparing taxes for over a decade.
“Many of the individuals that we help are counting on their refund to pay bills, help with education, or take care of an urgent need, like repairing a car. Our volunteers are gratified that their work is saving families hundreds of dollars in tax preparation fees,” said Taunya Johnson, VITA coordinator with the Community Action Agency.
For the first time, the IRS is holding EITC refunds back several weeks to ensure accuracy, so taxpayers should be aware that any advance refund is subject to penalties and interest if the actual refund amount differs.
To learn more about free tax services in Montgomery County, residents can go to the County’s CASHBACK website, http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/CASHBACK, or call 3-1-1 (or 240-777-0311 if calling from outside Montgomery County or MD RELAY 7-1-1.