County provides funding for tax assistance

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The Franklin County Commissioners voted to approve $75,000 to support free tax preparation services for low- and middle-income residents and families. The contract between Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services and the United Way of Central Ohio supports Tax Time, a coalition of non-profit, business and government partners that help residents maximize their returns, avoid preparation fees and build wealth.

“Filing taxes can be confusing and even intimidating. Tax Time helps ensure Franklin County residents and families get every cent they’re owed – including their expanded Child Tax Credit – and avoid costly, sometimes predatory tax preparation services,” Deputy Franklin County Administrator Joy Bivens said. “We’re proud to continue to partner with United Way and its network of volunteers to offer this reliable, no-cost option for working families.”

Tax Time combines the United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program as well as AARP’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program under one umbrella. This tax season, residents will be able to access free tax preparation services both virtually, as well as in-person at dozens of sites across Franklin County. Tax Time’s IRS-certified volunteers can also help families claim their full Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and any remaining stimulus dollars they are owed.

Households that earned up to $66,000 last year are eligible and can learn more by calling 211 or visiting GetYourRefund.org/UWCO.

Feb. 8 also marked the White House’s Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit Day of Action. The American Rescue Plan ACT (ARPA) increased the amount and expanded eligibility for both credits in 2021. The Center for Community Solutions estimates over 270,000 Ohio children were lifted out of poverty or moved closer to that threshold last year thanks to the additional money, which families used for expenses like rent, food and clothing.

The changes to the Child Tax Credit allowed eligible families to receive half of their credit in the form of monthly payments that were issued from July through December. However, families must file their 2021 return to claim their remaining credit – or the entire credit if they deferred the monthly payments.

Families can receive up to $3,600 per child, based on their age. However, the expansion of the credits in the ARPA was only temporary and will require federal action to make permanent.

Franklin County supports the expansion of both of these anti-poverty measures and has continued to advocate on their behalf through National Association of Counties (NACo) as well as the local congressional delegation. Over the summer, Bivens co-sponsored a NACo resolution with the National Association of County Human Services Administrators (NACHSA) supporting legislation to make the expansions in the ARPA permanent.

Visit ChildTaxCredit.gov to learn more.

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