Tax season is in full swing, but most folks haven’t even gotten started. If you earned $35,000 or less last year, you can get your taxes done for free.

Every dollar you save not paying for your tax forms to be filed is another dollar in your pocket. A continuing program from the Center For Economic Progress and the City of Chicago can help.

Tax time means paperwork, which is especially tough for those taxpayers who either lost a job or took on a second job last year to make ends meet.

“I have two jobs. I’m in a day care center now and worked another day care center,” says Rhonda Welch.

Tax preparation services can help, but you’ll pay hundreds of dollars to have your tax forms filled out. The good news is, if you earned less than $35,000 last year, you can get your taxes done, for free.

“Last year, I paid over $200 to have my taxes done and this year, I’m getting it done for free,” says Iris Dawkins.

Once again, the Center For Economic Progress and the City of Chicago have teamed up to provide this free tax preparation and electronic filing service for metro area residents. Last year….

“Our tax counseling project did 20,000 returns and brought back $25 million in refunds to families and individuals throughout Illinois,” says David Marzahl, Center For Economic Progress.

The tax centers typically have weeknight and Saturday hours to accomodate the busy schedules of working families. Many taxpayers who get their taxes done at these centers find out they’re owed a refund due to the earned income tax credit.

Last year, the average earned income tax credit refund was nearly $1,900, but some families got as much as $4,200. That’s a big chunk of change.

“The majority of people we see receive refunds. We want to ensure the low income families get their taxes processed here and avoid paying astronomical fees so they can get the benefit of that money,” says Russell Pike, a volunteer.

Another bonus is if you have a bank account, you can get your refund deposited directly into your account.

“What did you used to do before you got a refund?”

“I used to go to a currency exchange. It cost like about $15 to get it cashed. Now, it’s cheaper. It’s free,” Rhonda says.

To find out where to go to get your taxes done for free, call the city’s non-emergency number, 311 and you will be directed to the nearest tax center site.

Published: Mar 11, 2004