Local low-income families can receive free tax preparation help as the United Way of Snohomish County opens its annual tax help program.
“This is the 13th year we are doing this and providing free tax preparation,” said Allison Matsumoto, director of marketing and communications with the United Way of Snohomish County.
They are providing seven sites across the county this tax season.
“The program is meant to help families that are experiencing financial difficulty,” said Matsumoto.
It is available to any family that makes $55,000 or less each year. That number is determined by the federal government according to Matsumoto.
Most tax preparation services cost money or take money from an individual’s refund, and this program is meant to provide a free service for those who need it.
“A lot of people will go out and pay to have their taxes done, or even use TurboTax or another online service that takes a fee out of the return, but our program is done without taking any of the return, and is also done to provide people with an accurate tax return,” said Matsumoto.
The volunteers with the program are IRS-certified and will help walk individuals through their taxes.
United Way organizations across the country participate in the free tax preparation program and have secured $42 million in refunds over the years, along with saving families an estimated $3 million in filing fees and costs.
“For the past few years it’s been millions of dollars in returns that we’ve helped with,” said Matsumoto.
That can provide some extra help to families that are on a budget.
“It helps families be able to have just a little more in their pocket at the end of the day,” she said.
Sites for tax preparation are all over the county, including in Arlington at the Arlington Community Resource Center.
“This year is a little bit different as there are some sites that are appointment only,” said Matsumoto.
The center at 18308 Smokey Point Blvd., Arlington, will be taking appointments until April 11. Appointments can be made from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, and they can be scheduled at uwsc.org/taxhelp.
“There are still some sites that are taking walk ins as well,” said Matsumoto, and anyone is welcome to stop at any of the sites.
For north Snohomish County residents the closest walk-in location will be at the South Everett Goodwill Job Training & Education Center at 228 SW Everett Mall Way in Everett.
The locations are open until April 15 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
A full list of sites and more information about the program is available on the local United Way website at www.uwsc.org/taxhelp.