Free Tax Sites Still Open As the Season Draws to a Close
U.S. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene visited United Way of King County’s Free Tax Preparation site at University of Washington Bothell recently as a couple of folks were busy getting their returns prepared. She turned to Terrence Cabiao, United Way program manager, financial stability, who stressed that collaboration between the organization and the tax host sites meant more people could file and receive well-deserved credits.
“Those are child tax credits, earned income tax credits,” Cabiao said. “Those are powerful anti-poverty tools …”
DelBene interjected, “But they don’t help if you aren’t able to access it.”
That access one of the reasons United Way has provided Free Tax Prep sites for 20 years. Through April 21, United Way is offering free tax preparation services, both virtually and in person, at 11 locations throughout King County, including UW Bothell. Our tax preparation services are a convenient option available to you, your family members and your community. And each in-person site still follows COVID-19 protocols for safety.
The free tax preparation services are for households making under $70,000. Filers can be connected to other community resources and public benefits by request. United Way has trained about 10,000 volunteers since launching the program in 2003, and we’ve helped filers secure millions of dollars in federal tax refunds.
“The program’s message is simple, if you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit, we want you to get those credits and it’s because working families deserve a break,” Cabiao said. “This allows us to stay on a path to cut child poverty by 40 percent. This allows folks to save for college, cover daily expenses and pay down debt.”
Since January 1, United Way has completed more than 3,700 returns and helped filers receive $7 million in refunds.
The UW Bothell site is managed by Paul Oh, coordinator for school’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. He and other tax preparers are also students at the UW Bothell.
“We get to have opportunity to work for the community with the knowledge we learn in class,” said Oh. “We apply it in the real world to help people; that’s the most rewarding part.”
Cabiao said that the UW Bothell tax site has been operating for four years and added that using students as tax preparers “is a great way to build that relationship on campus and give that opportunity to students. And it’s nice when students come and get their taxes done, and it’s another student preparing them. It makes it more comfortable.”
As is the comfort of people being able to file their taxes in their respective communities, DelBene said. “All the different locations make a huge difference,” said DelBene. “Right here, in senior centers, [there are] a lot of places where it really can be challenging, and technology can be an issue. Being close by makes a big difference.”
Cabiao said that site traffic was slower than usual due to spring break, but he added that the site was on track to meet goals for filers. There is still time to file your taxes at one of the Free Tax Prep sites. Clients can go to www.freetaxexperts.org for the latest tax updates and offerings.