Free tax help for low-income residents


The message for those with low to moderate incomes: do not pay to have someone do your taxes because you can get those services for free and keep more of your hard-earned money.

The rush to file tax returns is already on. At this United Way sponsored tax preparation center in Montgomery County, there are plenty of people waiting to take advantage of the free help.

"People in Montgomery County who have moderate to low income get the money back from their taxes that they deserve and have earned," said Julie Martineau with the Montgomery Co. United Way.

Martineau says families that earn less than $55,000 can come to any Neighborhood Tax Center between now and the filing deadline and not pay a penny for the assistance. She says the money back from the IRS can go a long way in helping those in need.

"Our number one priority is moving people out of poverty. This is a way for people to get money back in their pockets to buy the things they need or to help build their assets so they can move out of poverty and their children as well move out of poverty," said Martineau.

The same services are offered in Harris, Fort Bend and Galveston counties. Those seeking help need to bring a photo ID, Social Security cards for each family member, W-2s and other tax forms, plus a bank routing number so the return can be deposited directly into a bank account.

While there are companies that charge for this service, the United Way wants people to know they can find IRS certified tax preparers willing to do the work for free.

"A lot of times what they will do is pay to have their taxes done and a lot of times they will pay to have their taxes done, and what they can do here is take that money and put it back into their household," said volunteer Rita Wiltz.

As for the changes in tax returns, the biggest is the Making Work Pay tax credit has expired. Last year it added an extra $400 per person or $800 per couple to a refund check, so some will get less money back this year.

Here are some helpful links for more information:

Tax Tips from Neighborhood Tax Centers

Neighborhood Tax Center locations

Galveston Co. Mainland Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Montgomery Co. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

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