City of Hattiesburg begins free tax prep

HATTIESBURG, Miss - This is a press release from City Hall.

Hattiesburg, Miss.-The City of Hattiesburg Mayor’s Financial Education Initiative tax partners will begin preparing free tax returns, including electronic filing, on Monday, January 25 through Friday, April 15, 2016. Preparers are tested yearly and certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The program is a component of the Mayor’s Financial Education Initiative (MFEI) which has netted low-to-moderate income families in Hattiesburg and Forrest county $16,353,475 in federal tax refunds over the past eight years. MFEI has also created awareness about the National Earned Income Tax Credit (ETIC) Awareness Day which will be celebrated nationally on January 29, as well as exposed the tax credits that are not being accessed by citizens.

To kick off ETIC Awareness Day, the City of Hattiesburg will have open house at the C.E. Roy Community Center on January 27 beginning at 11 a.m. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) will be on-site to prepare tax returns. They will also be at the Roy Center preparing tax returns every Wednesday throughout the tax season. The first 25 participants will receive a gift.

Millions of workers could overlook important federal tax credits because they simply don’t know about them. They could miss out on up to $6,242 extra in their federal income tax refunds through EITC and as much as $1,000 per qualifying child for the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

The EITC is a refundable tax credit available to qualifying lower-wage workers and their families. Workers with children earning less than $53,267 from wages, self-employment or farming in 2015 could qualify. Many people will qualify for the first time this year due to changes in their income, their marital status or parental status, according to the IRS. However, the IRS estimates only four out of five eligible workers currently claim their EITC. The CTC is available to workers with children earning more than $3,000. A qualifying child must be under age 17.

A family’s tax refund also offers a chance to put some money into savings. The EITC is one of the nation’s largest and most effective anti-poverty programs. The EITC and CTC programs have lifted millions out of poverty, half of them children. Those who earn $54,000 can get free tax filing help through the IRS-sponsored VITA or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs, and those who would like to learn how to prepare their own return are able to by visiting our Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) site. All programs provide fast electronic tax filing. Community volunteers receive IRS-approved training to assist individuals with tax returns.

Individuals interested in having their taxes prepared should bring income documents from all jobs worked throughout the year as well as their social security card, valid photo ID, copy of the 2014 tax return (if available), Form 8832 non-custodial parents claiming child, child/dependent care provider’s tax number, proof of health insurance coverage, student loan and college tuition expenses, and bank account number and routing information or voided check. Tax preparers will be available at the following locations:

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