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Tax season: Credits, warnings and where to go for free tax prep

A Legal Aid attorney warns against allowing an unqualified individual to prepare returns.
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YOUNGSTOWN — With tax season around the corner, Community Legal Aid advocates are gearing up to offer residents tips on tax credits, where to go to file for free (for those who qualify) and potential pitfalls to avoid.

Though the Earned Income Tax Credit has been around for a while, Legal Aid attorney Dana Goldstein said too many miss out on this refund, which can exceed $6,000.

“They may be unaware of the credit altogether, or file their taxes incorrectly or not at all,” Goldstein said in a news release. “Or they might feel they’ve been beat to the punch by a former partner who already claimed the EITC. These scenarios shouldn’t stop someone from filing for the EIT.” 

Goldstein said Legal Aid can help taxpayers who are eligible for the EITC file for the credit. 

Goldstein also warned against allowing an unqualified individual, including friends, to prepare returns.

“You can be fined for submitting an inaccurate return, and those fines can incur interest,” Goldstein said. “There are plenty of qualified tax preparers who will offer their services free of charge to qualified households, and you’ll get your return just as quickly as you would had you paid someone to do it.”

People with modest to low incomes often qualify to have their taxes prepared without charge through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Anyone can check to see if they may qualify for this program by visiting www.benefits.gov

For more information about services, contact the following:

  • Mahoning: VITA/TCE at 330-540-1947;
  • Trumbull – United Way at 211;
  • Columbiana: VITA/TCE at 330-540-1947.