United Way's 211 Program Helps People Save on Tax Preparation

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa-- Tax season is officially underway.

The National Association of Accountants says the average tax preparation costs $261. Some individuals and families on a limited budget simply can't afford that.

The United Way of East Central Iowa's 211 program helps people get their taxes done at no cost. To qualify you must make less than $50,000 a year or be over the age of 60 and on a fixed income.

211 connects people with AARP and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, which uses trained volunteers to do tax preparation.

Last year, United Way 211 helped 3,528 individuals get their taxes done at no charge. Thirty-percent of those people qualified for the earned income tax credit, which allows working low to moderate income individuals and families keep more of what they earn.
According to 211's manager, that tax credit pumped $6.3 million back into the communities served by United Way.

"We know those individuals who receive (the) earned income tax credit dollars use these to supplement their income throughout the year, they may also use it to make a special purchase like a down payments on a car or to buy a computer for their family," said Chris Juett, 211 Manager.

When you call 211, they will work with you to find out if you qualify, schedule an appointment at a location near you, and tell you what you need to bring along with you.

United Way's 211 program schedules appointments for those living in Linn, Jones, Black Hawk, and Washington counties, but can help connect those living in other counties to a tax assistance program in their area. The number to call is 211 or 739-4211.
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