Anchorage’s Free Tax Preparation Program Helps over 5,200 Alaskans Refund Amount Up $90,000 from Last Year
ANCHORAGE – The numbers are in! Over 5,200 Anchorage area residents and military members had their taxes prepared for free this year, and they received $8.8 million in refunds. Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), amounted to $1.18 million. Over 600 people were assisted who said they were disabled, and tax preparers were able to refer 774 households for food assistance who didn’t realize they might qualify for assistance.
“Financially struggling families get a triple benefit from going to the free tax prep sites: They maximize their refunds. They save on tax prep costs. They get information and referrals to other services. These all boost each family’s financial stability. And, those benefits ripple out into the local community as the $8.8 million in refunds gets used for goods and services,” said United Way of Anchorage President Michele Brown.
Many of the people who got their taxes prepared for free also connected with information about credit counseling, getting a better job, financial education opportunities, shopping for better nutrition, homeownership and food assistance programs.
This was the first year that Anchorage area taxpayers had a new option to file online for free at five free self-assisted sites and a total of 190 people chose the online alternative.
Some of the most popular free tax prep sites included Northeast Community Center, Anchorage Senior Center and the AARP Office. Credit Union 1 in Mountain View and Chugiak Eagle River Senior Center both saw increases in demand.
More than 246 taxpayers used the last-minute free tax preparation and advice offered on April 15th at University Center during Procrastinator’s Day. Volunteers E-filed returns on the final day and filed taxes for prior years, provided paper returns for some and helped others file for extensions.
Free tax preparation is made possible in Anchorage by a collaboration between United Way of Anchorage, the IRS, AARP Tax-Aide Foundation, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), the University of Alaska Anchorage, Wal-Mart Foundation, the National Disability Institute, the faith-based community, individual volunteers, nonprofits and government service providers.