Free Tax Preparers Be Like, “Hurry Up and Come On Down!”

By United Way of King County, on April 10, 2023 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, take note: Uncle Sam is not Father Time.

You’ve got until April 18 to submit your return before being hit with fees—late penalties plus interest that according to the IRS, starts accruing on any unpaid tax from the due date of the return until the date of payment in full. The IRS says the interest rate is compounded daily at the federal short-term rate plus 3%.

Then come two types of late fees: The failure-to-pay penalty comes if you owe taxes and don’t pay on time. That penalty is one-half of 1% for each month, or part of a month, until the tax is paid in full. The failure-to-file penalty comes when you owe taxes and don’t file on time. It’s usually 5% of the tax owed for each month. If you file more than 60 days late, you will incur a minimum late-filing penalty of either $450 or 100 percent of the tax owed.

Hoping for extra time? You have until April 18 to file and extension, and even if you’re approved you have until October 16 to file your return, with no additional extensions granted.

All of this begs the question: Why not let United Way of King County do your taxes for free?

If you make less than $80,000 a year, let United Way’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign take time, worry and guesswork out of filing your return. Funded by United Way, the IRS and the City of Seattle, the Free Tax Preparation Campaign runs through April and helps people take advantage of earned income tax credits, the nation’s most vital anti-poverty measure.

Seattle deputy mayor Greg Wong, right, and Ryan McFerran, United Way of King County program manager of tax credits & financial stability, chat near United Way’s Free Tax Prep site at Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch

Volunteers are fully trained and IRS certified, and we offer both in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities, which include: 

• In-Person Tax Preparation Specialists: Prepare tax returns at one of our locations across King County. All specialists are trained to obtain Advanced IRS Tax Law VITA certification.

• Community Intake Specialists: Assist at our tax sites by maintaining client waitlists, answering questions and connecting clients to important community resources.

• Virtual Tax Preparation Specialists: Prepare tax returns and interface with clients online via the Free Tax Preparation Campaign’s end-to-end case management tool.

Last year alone we helped 6,400 filers secure more than $11 million in income tax refunds. We also help residents with Individual Taxpayer Identification Number applications and renewals at select sites.

Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqeda @cmtmosqueda visits United Way’s Free Tax Prep site at the White Center Library!

State and local lawmakers have visited our free tax sites and have lauded our efforts to help King County residents capitalize on this year’s Washington state Working Families Tax Credit, a provision that will give yearly cash payments of as much as $1,200 to nearly 400,000 low-to-moderate income households in Washington state. Along with federal tax credits such as those for children and earned income, state residents have some of the most effective poverty fighting tools in the nation at their disposal.

We applaud those who have capitalized on this vital measure to help local residents save money (the average cost to submit an IRS Form 1040 and state return with no itemized deductions is $220, according to Investopedia) and often get back some of their earnings.

Ryan McFerran, United Way of King County program manager of tax credits & financial stability, says that all United Way’s Free Tax Prep sites will remain open until April 20, and select sites will then reopen on the week of May 1.

But why wait? If you make less than $80,000 and haven’t visited one of our Free Tax sites, come on down and let us file your taxes today!


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